Central Australian Aboriginal Congress today added its voice to a growing chorus of concerns about the forthcoming end to Alcohol Protected Areas in the Northern Territory.

From July 16 legislation that was introduced under Stronger Futures Act will expire, allowing the sale of take-away alcohol in more than 430 communities across the NT.

A current bill before the government in the NT will remove the protections and would see consultations with communities to see if they want to opt-in to future alcohol restrictions.

A swathe of First Nations health and advocacy groups have called on the Northern Territory government to withdraw the bill and talk to communities about what they want.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee, says the ending of protections will see a return to a “river of grog” flowing through communities.

“Alice Springs has become more like a normal country town with much less public drunkenness, fewer alcohol-related assaults and lower numbers of people going to hospital due to the unregulated consumption of take-away alcohol.

“Anyone who lived in Alice Springs through the early 2000s will remember that we were the stabbing capital of the world according to the head surgeon of the Alice Springs Hospital and we had a terrible run of premature deaths attributable to alcohol.”

“A lot of hard work and evidence-based policy reforms have helped to turn this around.”