Frustrated business owners in Ceduna, on the west coast of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, say new alcohol restrictions do not go far enough to address alcohol-related issues in the community.¬†

Thirty letters were recently sent to local and federal representatives expressing concerns about people abusing alcohol in Ceduna’s streets.

Those letters, seen by the ABC, detailed incidents of harassment and violence around Ceduna with observations that people were sleeping rough and being antisocial.

A three-month trial of tighter alcohol restrictions is underway in Ceduna.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

The issue came to a head in late April when new liquor restrictions were introduced to curb alcohol-related harm in the morning.

The new restrictions prohibit the sale of fortified wine, cask wine, and spirits until midday in a bid to give frontline services more time to recover from overnight activity.

Those restrictions were suggested by a local publican and workshopped with local Indigenous leaders and service providers.

Concerned about Ceduna’s reputation

Ceduna business owner Tullie Seneca said the coastal town’s social issues escalated over the summer.

“Phone calls to the police were happening every day by community members,” she said.

“It then creates a bad picture of the community and it’s not so much fun living and working here in the main street.

“At times I’ve been concerned about my welfare and other people’s welfare.”

Tullie Seneca says she is heartbroken that tourists are choosing to avoid Ceduna because of alcohol-related issues.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

Ms Seneca was pessimistic about the new alcohol restrictions.

“Unfortunately, people were getting alcohol from different places and it was being obtained illegally anyway. I don’t think it will make any difference,” she said.

It is a sentiment echoed by local bricklayer Barry Vaughan.

Barry Vaughan says locals are distressed about antisocial behaviours in town.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

“I love living in Ceduna, but I feel like at the moment the whole fabric of the town is being destroyed by antisocial behaviour, which I’ve witnessed firsthand,” he said.

“Fighting, arguing, drinking openly in the main street. It’s embarrassing for those of us who love Ceduna and live here.”

Housing troubles underpin social issues

Housing and employment challenges are preventing vulnerable community members from participating in Ceduna’s economy, according to Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Wayne Miller.

“We really need to take a strong hard look at the housing issue,” Mr Miller said.

“We’ve lost so much of our public housing stock and that’s causing a lot of the Ceduna community members to be on waitlists that are 10 years long to get public housing. That’s not acceptable. It contributes to overcrowding.

“If people aren’t able to get a house, they have to bunk up with families. It’s not what we want.

“We want to be able to build stable homes so everyone’s going home. And if the home is right, then we can start to talk about the jobs and we can start to talk about the schools and everything else.”

Wayne Miller says a lack of housing options is hindering economic participation in Ceduna.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

Mr Miller said multiple houses around Ceduna were boarded shut or have been demolished because they were uninhabitable.

Some people are sleeping rough in tents on the outskirts of town.

Some people are sleeping rough on the outskirts of Ceduna.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Amelia Costigan)

Services draw visitors to Ceduna

Ceduna residents who spoke to the ABC said they were concerned about transient people from Indigenous communities including Yalata and Oak Valley who did not have permanent housing in Ceduna.

Oak Valley Aboriginal Corporation director Lance Ingomar said one of the reasons people from the community visited Ceduna was for more affordable groceries.

“They come here [to Ceduna] and buy food, which is cheaper than where I live. I’m 700 kilometres away, a long drive to the Foodland out here. I have to do that, I have a lot of grandkids and the nearest shop is Foodland in Ceduna,” he said.

Mr Ingomar said many families in Oak Valley were feeling the economic pinch.

“What do they do to support their families? They are struggling, we are all struggling,” he said.

A new mural on the Ceduna post office showcases the work of a local Indigenous artist.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

Recently dubbed one of the most affordable coastal suburbs in Australia with a $6 million arts and culture centre development underway on the foreshore, Ceduna remains an attractive tourist and residential area.

Mr Miller said the dynamic community was looking for proactive solutions to their social problems.

“We all need to come together and contribute to solutions and hopefully from that point we can build a better generation for our kids,” he said.