The policing implications of petrol sniffing and other inhalant misuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' communities

  • Research program: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: December 2003
  • Expected end date: September 2006
  • Completion date: November 2010
  • Funded by: National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF) & AGDHA
  • Lead organisation:

This collaborative project – which was conducted in communities in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland – was commissioned the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. A published report was widely distributed within state and territory police services, to Indigenous community-controlled organisations, and other key stakeholders. The aim of the project was to enhance the understanding within the law enforcement sector about the extent and nature of petrol sniffing and other volatile substance misuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote, rural and urban communities. In addition to describing the social and policing context of volatile substance misuse, the report identified the range of reactive policing strategies that are potentially (and actually) available to officers encountering intoxicated people, as well as various proactive policing activities aimed at preventing or minimising volatile substance misuse and its consequences. Practical guidance on the most appropriate ways for police to deal with sniffing incidents was provided in the form of a list of do’s and don’ts for officers encountering volatile substance users.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
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Dr Annalee Stearne
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1630
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Project staff

Alcohol policy and strategies


  • Co-investigator: Peter d'Abbs, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
  • Co-investigator: Anne Mosey, Independent consultant
  • Co-investigator: Gillian Shaw, Independent consultant
  • Co-investigator: Catherine Spooner, University of New South Wales
  • Project staff: Nathan Barrow, Curtin University
  • Project staff: Brooke Sputore, Curtin University

Professor Dennis Gray
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1624
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This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets:

Gray, D., Shaw, G., d'Abbs, P., Brooks, D., Stearne, A., Mosey, A. and Spooner, C. (2006). Policing, Volatile Substance Misuse, and Indigenous Australians. National Drug Law Enforcement and Research Fund, Mardon, SA. ISBN: 0 642 47447 8 [M60]