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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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Charlie drank. So did the woman he loved, Melva Mula. Melva was from Imanpa, of a family that were considered big imbibers even by Imanpa standards. The family was rife with substance abuse problems: the adults drank heavily and got into trouble; the children sniffed petrol. The relationship between Charlie and Melva was never meant to be. It was "wrong way" according to Aboriginal Law. They were separated when Melva was married to a man at Mimili, a community on the Pitjantjatjara Freehold Lands in South Australia, in a traditionally prescribed union, which produced a child. Charlie re-entered Melva's life a few years later when her husband died. They became virtually inseparable. When Charlie drank, however, he was abusive, and Melva was a walking, wounded testament to that side of his character. When his younger brother died, in early 1988, Charlie's drinking went from bad to out of control. As it happened, the tragedy coincided with a freeing up of alcohol supplies in the area such as had not been seen in eight years (see also section V). Until 1980, when the Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse sold unlimited takeaway alcohol, the scale of problems at Imanpa became so great that the community requested, and the N.T. Liquor Commission imposed, a six-can limit on takeaway sales of beer. No takeaway sales of wine or spirits were permitted under the licence conditions set by the Commission. Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse, which was purchased by the Imanpa Community with great pride and fanfare in 1987, effectively provided the only local supplies of takeaway alcohol to Aboriginal communities in the area, and they were strictly limited and controlled. Erldunda Roadhouse, 70 kilometres to the east of the community on the Stuart Highway, was not permitted to sell takeaway alcohol as the result of objections by Pitjantjatjara Council and Imanpa to applications by the proprietor for an off-premises licence (see also sections V & VI). Ernest Giles Tavern at Yulara had an agreement with the Pitjantjatjara Council not to sell takeaway alcohol to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people residing in or travelling to or through Pitjantjatjara or Ngaanyatjarra communities. The existence of this agreement was noted on the tavern's licence. Curtin Springs Roadhouse, about 100 kilometres to the west of Imanpa, did not sell takeaway alcohol to Pitjantjatjara people, although there were no restrictions on its licence and no formal agreement between Peter Severin, the licensee, and the Council. 4