Territory Stories

Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc



Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc

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Tabled Paper 271


Tabled Papers for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Eric Poole


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




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community on 31st May, they were being squeezed in the middle - "utjuringanyi" - becoming narrow. It was too much for Charlie. Before he knew it, he was back on the grog. He resolved again to go to the Gordon Symons Centre with Melva. To keep himself straight in the time leading up to their departure, Charlie and Melva went to his mother's outstation near Ernabella on the Pitjantjatjara Lands. They stayed several weeks. Melva went ahead to Imanpa. When the time to catch the bus to Darwin arrived, Charlie's mother drove him to the crossroads of the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. She was heading into Alice Springs; someone would come along and give Charlie a ride to Imanpa. Unfortunately for Charlie, the dominant feature of that crossroads is the Erldunda Roadhouse. It is not known how long Charlie Okai was at Erldunda before he went inside and started drinking. He spent part of the afternoon there, and when he left, with a number of friends from Imanpa, he reportedly had two cartons of beer and two four-litre casks of wine with him. His friends had their own supplies as well. It was a Friday, the 1st of June - the day after the Sessional Committee sat at Imanpa. The group returned to Imanpa, without stopping at Mt. Ebenezer, at about seven o'clock in the evening, according to information received by Pitjantjatjara Council. Drinking parties ensued, first at Melva's house, then at another house. Fights predictably followed. Melva's body was discovered by her aunt the next morning. Charlie was later apprehended by police in Alice Springs, reportedly in a drinking camp in the Todd River. He is now awaiting trial on murder charges in relation to the death of Melva Mula. Charlie Okai is in his late twenties, as was Melva. His future, never bright, is a shadow. Despite a life dominated by alcohol, Charlie had tried to change his drinking habit. Melva tried, too. Their effort was actively supported by the community. Because of takeaway alcohol sales from Curtin Springs and Erldunda, however, Imanpa could no longer offer Charlie and Melva the breathing space they needed on their journey to understanding alcohol. In the two and a half months since Melva's death, there have been two other serious incidents directly attributable to easily available takeaway alcohol along the Lasseter Highway. 9

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