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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As the camp grew larger and more unsightly and problems related to the boozy way of life within it worsened, the Kunoths in the mid-1970s offered the group an excision on Mt. Ebenezer station some distance from the roadhouse, north of the still-unsealed highway, but sufficiently nearby to maintain daily contact and dependence. A lease was finalised and, in about 1975, "Imanpa" came into being. The families who moved to the excision had virtually nothing. They lived in car bodies and wiltjas constructed of available scrap materials canvas, corrugated metal, bits of brush and cardboard scavenged from the roadhouse tip. Two water taps served more than 100 people. But, following a change of licensee at Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse, the Imanpa "community" did have one reliable service: Every day a truck would come to take people to the roadhouse to buy grog and fast food and then return them to the excision, where their alcohol-fueled violence did not disturb the roadhouse atmosphere. The amount of alcohol that could be bought and taken away was limited only by purchasing power, and Mt. Ebenezer was the only supplier of grog to Aboriginal people in the area. The Erldunda Roadhouse was yet to be built. Curtin Springs voluntarily chose not to sell takeaway alcohol to most Aboriginal people in the area. By 1980, Imanpa had a well-earned reputation as "the drunken hole of the area, the pits", according to Geoff Langford and Carol Thornton, who came to advise the community on behalf of the Uniting Church. It had the highest rate of violence in the southern region, as measured by evacuations by the Flying Doctor Service and call-outs to police. Alcohol-related trauma was so frequent and serious at Imanpa it was thought that, if the community's drinking patterns didn't change, a full-time doctor would be required on-site - this at a time when community-based doctors were very rare. Alcohol-related problems at Imanpa had got so bad in 1980 that the N.T. Liquor Commission persuaded the roadhouse licensee to suspend all takeaway alcohol sales to Imanpa residents for a three-month period. 35

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