Objective: To identify any regional variation in per capita consumption of pure alcohol, and the types of beverages consumed in the NT; and, to estimate the relative contributions to consumption by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Method:Estimates of per capita consumption were based on wholesale purchases of alcohol by licensee and census population data. Mean levels of per capita consumption, and the percentages of each beverage type consumed, were compared between regions and through time. Estimates of per capita levels of consumption between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal segments of the population were based upon reports of the proportion of frequent and occasional drinkers in each group and the ratio of consumption among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal drinkers.
Results: Mean quarterly per capita consumption was higher in both the Lower Top End (4.22 litres) and the Central NT (4.04 litres), and less in the Barkly (3.44 litres) than in the Top End (3.55 litres). Over the four year period there was a rise of 6.4 per cent in consumption in the Top End and a decline of 22.5 percent in the Barkly. In the Lower Top End and the Central NT a larger percentage of alcohol was consumed as cask wine than in the Top End. Prior to the introduction of licensing restrictions, this was also the case in the Barkly. In the NT, per capita consumption among Aboriginal people is approximately 1.97 times, and among non-Aboriginal people about 1.43 times, the national average.
Conclusions: In the NT, alcohol consumption is greater than in Australia as a whole and there is significant regional variation. The problem is not simply an Aboriginal problem, and a broad range of strategies–which include a component to address regional variation–is required to reduce it.