ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Drink-driving and drink-walking in the NSW Pacific Island communities

Toms, Michelle (Peer reviewed)

Drink/Drug Driving


In 2002, the Drug and Alcohol Multicultural Education Centre (DAMEC) was awarded a NSW Motor Accidents Authority Injury Prevention and Road Safety Grant to conduct research into drink driving and drink walking among the NSW Pacific Island community. The research was conducted in response to concerns about the incidence of drink driving and alcohol consumption in Pacific Island communities. In response, DAMEC conducted a qualitative research study involving 13 focus groups and 12 in-depth interviews with members of Pacific Island communities in Sydney and the NSW town of Griffith. The methodology aimed to differentiate the contexts in which drink driving and drink walking occur among certain members of those communities (eg. young people, males), and to recommend counter measures. 

The research found a disturbing pattern of binge-drinking among Pacific Island people, and related drink driving and drink walking. One of the more alarming findings is the large number of young people who are passengers of drink drivers. The passengers are rarely in a position to influence the driver, especially if they are a parent or relative. Drink walking is common with young males, although not considered a problem by some. The research also found mixed awareness of BAC levels and drink driver penalties. The paper will focus on the social contexts for drink driving and drink walking, and recommend counter-measures to minimise the harm from drink driving and drink walking with Pacific Island people in NSW.