14 December, 2020

Lowitja Institute has called on the Northern Territory Government and Woolworths to put an end to plans for one of Australia’s biggest Dan Murphy’s stores to be built in Darwin, warning it would put at risk critical gains in addressing alcohol harm in the Top End.

Lowitja Institute chairperson Pat Anderson AO, a signatory to a recent Open Letter to Woolworths* from local Aboriginal and health organisations and their allies, said the giant store would put Aboriginal health and wellbeing at grave risk and undermine the Northern Territory’s commitments on self-determination and addressing alcohol harm.

“It is unconscionable that profits are permitted to trump health policies and astounding that a government would seek to bypass its own processes of proper assessment of harms and benefits for such a detrimental proposal,” Ms Anderson said.

Lowitja Institute’s work over many years has explored the impact of alcohol abuse,  particularly in relation to harms to mental health and family wellbeing – and the challenges it creates for the provision of appropriate health services.

The 2017 Riley Review found that the Northern Territory had not only the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia, but the highest rate of risky alcohol consumption, the highest death rate due to alcohol, and the country’s highest rates of hospitalisations related to alcohol misuse.

“Given its relatively small population, the establishment of this Dan Murphy’s could at a single stroke wipe out all the health and wellbeing gains the Northern Territory Government had begun to make in addressing alcohol-related harm.”

“Woolworths should put people’s health, wellbeing and safety, and their own corporate social responsibility, ahead of profits,” Ms Anderson said.

* An Open Letter to Woolworths Chair Gordon Cairns https://fare.org.au/woolies-open-letter/

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