Many remote communities in the NT have evoked ‘dry’ status. This status is conferred by the NT Liquor Commission after application by communities for this consideration.

Alcohol cannot be sold or consumed in dry communities. There are heavy penalties for those caught breaching the law of prohibition with dry communities. These penalties can include hefty fines, jail terms and the forfeiture of funds gained from illicit sales. The forfeiture of the vehicle or boat used in transporting alcohol to dry communities is generally ordered by the court.

The issue of ‘dryness’ impacts upon community residents who would prefer to have alcohol at home. Those who want but cannot access alcohol, often leave home abd move to places without this restriction.

To this end, many drinkers finish up in Darwin, Palmerston or Alice Springs. There they become itinerants who are classed as being ‘homeless’ and who generally live out in the open. They are called ‘long grassers’.  [They are not homeless in the sense that they have left home to go travelling.]

These persons often have a detrimental impact upon places to which they move, particularly shopping centres and around other facilities where they set up camp. It is held that some contribute to the spike in property crime in our urban centres. There is begging, urination and defacation in public places. The behaviour of some members of these groups is impaired by alcohol. Members of this group are often supported by charities with essentials, including food, being handed out. For some, this largese leaves more money for alcohol.

This is an aspect of the NT about which much is known but about which little is done. There is plenty of talk about correcting the issues but little us done and few changes are made.

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