Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc
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.
The decision took great courage and faith. To make the trip would mean leaving their families and the community in what was clearly great danger for four weeks. The police, the community advisors and even a prominent local pastoralist promised the participants that all possible measures would be taken to ensure that the community was looked after in the month they would be away. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs contributed the cost of travel and attending the four-week course. The community chucked in to pay for all incidental expenses, such as new clothes and shoes, food, etc. The bus company arranged a speedy transition at Alice Springs, so no one would be tempted to start drinking in town. Sixteen of the 19 community leaders who travelled to Darwin completed the course. They returned to Imanpa with a new way of talking about grog problems that focussed on the individual. Separate alcohol meetings for men and women were convened every Monday morning. Within these meetings, traditional authority had precedence. No whitefella business could be discussed. No community issues could be raised unless they related in some way to alcohol. The meetings provided a forum for discussing grievances, personal feelings and the "pathology" of alcohol abuse, which is characterised by denial, deceit and rationalisation. They also provided a formal means for saying "I'm sorry". Things discussed there, stayed there. The whole community shut down when these meetings were in progress, and they could consume an entire morning. These meetings actually resulted in some modifications in behaviour. Drinkers were pressured to stay away from the community. There was still violence, but not all of it was in Imanpa. "Grog wardens" put up roadblocks to stop drinkers from bringing alcohol into the community. Losing ground These efforts, however important for Imanpa, were like trying to hold back the tide. The Curtin Springs licence was renewed over the objections of Pitjantjatjara Council. And when the Erldunda Roadhouse began selling takeaway alcohol for the first time in May 1989, the battle became a losing one. 41
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