Development of a drink driving program for regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Monograph no. 55

Michelle S Fitts, Gavan R Palk

The majority of Indigenous fatal road injuries are sustained by road users in regional and remote areas, whereby a strong association between alcohol and serious and fatal non-metropolitan road crashes has been established. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in drink driving arrests generally and in drink driving recidivism rates. While national and state transport agencies recommend better countermeasures to reduce risky driving practices among Indigenous road users, there is sparse evidence to inform new treatment measures. The project is comprised of three independent but linked stages of quantitative and qualitative research. Analysis of drink driving convictions (2006-2010) in Queensland, identified drink driving convictions were more predominant in rural and remote areas. Qualitative interviews were conducted with participants residing in Cairns and Cape York region in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Unique risk factors associated with drink driving in the Indigenous context were identified, including kinship pressure and alcohol restrictions. Based on the findings from the two phases, a four session program for regional and remote Indigenous communities was developed. The program, one of first of its kind in Australia, was trialled in three communities. Focus groups and interviews were conducted at the completion of the program to determine short-term perceptions of the content and delivery suitability as well as program recommendations. The program has the ability to be an effective treatment option as part of a community-based sentencing option and assist in reducing drink driving in Indigenous Australian regional and remote communities. Program recommendations and other policy considerations to reduce drink driving in Indigenous communities are discussed.