Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Reducing petrol sniffing in Indigenous communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
    The Hon Warren Snowden MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery

The Australian Government’s response to two Senate Inquiries, released last night, shows the introduction of Opal fuel led to a significant decrease in petrol sniffing in regional and remote Indigenous communities.

Currently, 106 communities, roadhouse and other fuel outlets are receiving Opal fuel across regional and remote Australia.

The Evaluation of the Impact of Opal fuel (2008-09) reported a 70 per cent drop in petrol sniffing across the sample communities between baseline and follow up data collections.

In this year’s Budget, the Government provided an additional $38.5 million over four years to strengthen the delivery of Opal fuel including addressing fuel storage and distribution issues.

This additional funding will:

  • Provide Opal fuel for a further 39 roadhouses and petrol stations to help 11 communities in Queensland’s Gulf Region of Queensland, East Kimberley in Western Australia and the Top End of the Northern Territory, to tackle significant petrol sniffing issues.
  • Support the voluntary rollout of fuel by establishing new storage facilities in Darwin and Northern Queensland to improve distribution.
  • Fund a comprehensive communications strategy to support the rollout of fuel.
    Develop and implement a monitoring system and construct an evaluation of the impact of the expanded rollout of Opal fuel.

The Government is working with Indigenous communities, non-government providers such as the Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service and NPY Women’s Council, local councils and state and territory governments to tackle the crippling impact of petrol sniffing, particularly among young people.

We are also expanding youth services and activities in conjunction with the introduction of Opal fuel, to support people overcome their addiction. This includes the employment of two senior youth workers and local Anangu trainee youth workers in each of the central Australian communities of Finke, Docker River, Imanpa and Mutitjulu. Eight youth workers in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands are providing a range of sporting and recreational activities.
The Government will continue to work with Indigenous communities and service providers to improve the delivery and co-ordination of youth, rehabilitation and treatment services.

The data being collected will be used as the basis of future Government decisions on the benefit of additional legislative approach once the voluntary roll out of Opal fuel has occurred in 2012-13.

Further information is available at the FaHCSIA website