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Australia: Big Alcohol Plans Superstore Near Alcohol-Free Aboriginal Communities

Australia: Big Alcohol Plans Superstore Near Alcohol-Free Aboriginal Communities

In Australia Woolworths-owned Endeavour Drinks Group is pushing ahead to build an alcohol superstore “Dan Murphy’s” near alcohol-free aboriginal communities. There’s passionate opposition from affected communities and public health experts, but Big Alcohol is pushing ahead using their financial and political power.

The superstore is planned to be built in Darwin within 2 kilometres from the Bagot Community, and two alcohol-free communities, Minmarama Park Community and Kulaluk Community and right next to a six-lane highway.

In March 2020, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) wrote to the Board of Woolworths asking them to consider their legal responsibilities as directors in relation to the company’s push to develop one of the country’s biggest Dan Murphy’s stores in Darwin.

Concerns about the health and safety impacts of the store have been raised by the Northern Territory branch of the Public Health Association of Australia, FARE and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, as well as other community and health groups.

Make no mistake, this store, in this location, will fuel more harm. The NT Liquor Commission has made that clear, yet Woolworths continues to do all in its power to ignore the law and now change the law – seemingly hell-bent on serving their own corporate interests,” said Caterina Giorgi, FARE CEO, as per Croakey.

Currently, proceedings are underway in the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal regarding Dan Murphy’s. A tribunal hearing on May 15 was adjourned until June 12.

Helen Fejo-Frith and elder from the Bagot community has called on Woolworths to stop building the superstore as it can increase existing problems and create new problems due to alcohol harm. Several issue that health experts and Mrs Fejo-Frith highlight are as follows:

  • Increasing alcohol availability and affordability will lead to more consumption and binge alcohol use.
  • Increasing alcohol use is linked to violence including domestic violence.
  • Alcohol harm will specifically affect children negatively, for instance through normalization of alcohol and more violence.
  • Erosion of aboriginal culture and values.
  • Increase in road traffic accidents as the store is next to the highway. Many community people walk on foot and crossing the busy 6 lane highway for alcohol increases risk of accidents and loss of lives. There would also be more bootlegging alcohol.

…we have an alcohol problem that’s only going to get worse if this big Dan Murphy’s bottle shop gets built up the road, selling cheap grog and making it real easy for people to have more [alcohol] sprees and getting into more trouble,” said Helen Fejo-Frith, Bagot community elder, as per, Croakey.

Despite the opposition and obvious evidence of harm, Big Alcohol is pushing forward. Woolworths-owned Endeavour Drinks Group has been pushing for the alcohol superstore for five years. Big Alcohol is insisting most people in Darwin want the superstore. The group is making empty promises saying they will ensure the safety of the community and responsible service of alcohol – when the communities and public health experts are saying the safest way is to have no superstore.

Sources:

Croakey: “An Elder’s plea to Woolworths: “We just don’t want Dan Murphy’s”

SBS News: “Dan Murphy’s quest to set up NT store near three dry Indigenous communities enters fifth year