New Community Goes Dry And Three Renew Commitment

  • Pilbara community of Weymul votes for the first time to ban liquor
  • Three North West Aboriginal communities renew their commitment to being alcohol-free
  • Brings number of dry communities in Western Australia to 29

An Aboriginal community in the Pilbara is the latest to ban alcohol and joins three North West communities renewing their commitment to being alcohol free.

Weymul is a small Aboriginal community in the Pilbara, located 30 kilometres south of Karratha. The Weymul Aboriginal Corporation has become Western Australia’s newest dry community.

Stakeholders voted without objection for a five-year ban as they say the presence of alcohol in their community is causing mental health problems, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour, drink driving, general harm to the community and visitors, and endangering children.

The community says alcohol is “a disruption to the way of life and the practice of community culture” and goes “against everything that the community was started for”.

This brings the number of liquor-restricted communities in WA to 29.

Additionally, the communities of Kalumburu, Wangkatjungka and Yakanarra have renewed their commitment to being dry.

WA’s northernmost settlement, the community of Kalumburu – 270km north of the Gibb River Road – have had their alcohol restrictions extended for 10 years until 2034.

Community leaders have steadfastly supported liquor restrictions because of the violence and social problems alcohol causes. They know money spent on alcohol takes it out of the pockets of families, children and the elderly. They are also highly aware of the time and strain it puts on local health, police and allied services.

In the Kimberley, Wangkatjungka is a larger community, 130km south-east of Fitzroy Crossing. Access to the area has been adversely affected by the floods of February 2023 and as a result, restrictions have been extended for one year to allow for further consultation.

Yakanarra, a community about 60km south-west of Fitzroy Crossing, specifically requested a 10-year extension, which was supported by all stakeholders.

The community says they are strongly committed to being dry and believe liquor causes serious problems for many families, including violence. Community leaders say the benefit of being a remote community and two-and-a-half-hour drive from Fitzroy Crossing is that it helps keep liquor away. They want to remain a dry community into the distant future and keep Yakanarra’s reputation as being “one of the best and safest communities to live in”.

These alcohol bans are made possible under Section 175 of the Liquor Control Act 1988. While approved by the Minister, requests come from local Aboriginal communities and involve extensive consultation with community, police, local government, Ministers and other relevant stakeholders.

In considering the Weymul ban, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries consulted with the Weymul Aboriginal Corporation, local government and across the State Government.

Under a ban, it is an offence to bring into, possess, buy or consume liquor in the regulated areas.

Information about Section 175 liquor restrictions can be found on the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website:https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/racing-gaming-and-liquor/liquor/liquor-restrictions/liquor-restrictions-section-175

As stated by Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia:

“Congratulations to Weymul for choosing to go dry – a move which can only benefit the community on every level.

“Thank you to the communities of Kalumburu, Wangkatjungka and Yakanarra for continuing to be staunchly committed to being alcohol-free and strengthening their community by clearly recognising the benefits.

“It’s pleasing to see community stakeholders being unanimously supportive of these restrictions, ensuring they have the best of intentions in protecting each other from alcohol-related harm.

“Liquor bans have resulted in positive outcomes for dozens of remote and regional parts of Western Australia. Work in this space remains a priority as part of the Cook Government’s ongoing efforts to reduce all forms of alcohol-related harm.”

/Public Release. View in full here.