Monitoring trends in prevalence of petrol sniffing in selected Aboriginal communities : an interim report


This report presents interim findings from a study of petrol sniffing prevalence in a sample of 41 Australian Aboriginal communities, drawn from nine regions located in Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The study aims to contribute to monitoring the impact of an ongoing rollout of low aromatic fuel (LAF) in communities beset by petrol sniffing, The study commenced in 2011 and is scheduled for completion in 2014. Two kinds of data are being collected: quantitative data on prevalence and frequency of sniffing; complementary qualitative data on other factors that may affect the impact of LAF. This interim report presents quantitative findings only. In the 41 communities in the present survey, a total of 276 current sniffers were found, most of them located in four of the nine regions from which communities were selected, namely Top End, Katherine and Barkly regions of the NT and the Goldfields region of WA. The 19 communities located in the remaining five regions accounted between them for only 47 sniffers. Four out of five sniffers were male, and over half were aged 15-24 years. The trends and patterns suggest that, while the rollout of LAF continues to be associated with significantly reduced levels of petrol sniffing compared with baseline levels recorded in 2005-07, there are also signs of continuing and in some cases increasing levels of petrol sniffing. This is particularly apparent in communities that are not yet incorporated into a regional strategy for rolling out LAF.

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