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Type: Journal article
Title: 'Sly grog' and 'homebrew': a qualitative examination of illicit alcohol and some of its impacts on Indigenous communities with alcohol restrictions in regional and remote Queensland (Australia)
Author: Fitts, M.
Robertson, J.
Towle, S.
Doran, C.
McDermott, R.
Miller, A.
Margolis, S.
Ypinazar, V.
Clough, A.
Citation: BMC Research Notes, 2017; 10(1):360-1-360-13
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1756-0500
Statement of
Michelle S. Fitts, Jan Robertson, Simon Towle, Chris M. Doran, Robyn McDermott, Adrian Miller, Stephen Margolis, Valmae Ypinazar and Alan R. Clough
Abstract: Background: Indigenous communities in Queensland (Australia) have been subject to Alcohol Management Plans since 2002/03, with significant penalties for breaching restrictions. 'Sly grog' and 'homebrew' provide access to alcohol despite restrictions. This paper describes how this alcohol is made available and the risks and impacts involved. In affected towns and communities across a large area of rural and remote Queensland, interviews and focus groups documented experiences and views of 255 long-standing community members and service providers. Using an inductive framework, transcribed interviews were analysed to identify supply mechanisms, community and service provider responses and impacts experienced. Results: 'Homebrew' was reportedly manufactured in just a few localities, in locally-specific forms bringing locally-specific harms. However, 'sly grog' sourced from licensed premises located long distances from communities, is a widespread concern across the region. 'Sly grog' sellers circumvent retailers' takeaway liquor license conditions, stockpile alcohol outside restricted areas, send hoax messages to divert enforcement and take extraordinary risks to avoid apprehension. Police face significant challenges to enforce restrictions. On-selling of 'sly grog' appears more common in remote communities with total prohibition. Despite different motives for involvement in an illicit trade 'sly grog' consumers and sellers receive similar penalties. Conclusions: There is a need for: (a) a more sophisticated regional approach to managing takeaway alcohol sales from licensed suppliers, (b) targeted penalties for 'sly grog' sellers that reflect its significant community impact, (c) strategies to reduce the demand for alcohol and (d) research to assess the effects of these strategies in reducing harms.
Keywords: Alcohol; alcohol supply controls; Indigenous Australia
Rights: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030080775
DOI: 10.1186/s13104-017-2691-9
Grant ID:
Appears in Collections:Public Health publications

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