The Northern Territory news Sat 29 Jul 2017
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18 NEWS SATURDAY JULY 29 2017 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Tackling a tragic trend FRIENDS say it was out of character for Litchfield Rugby Leagues reserve grade captain to drink and drive. Last Saturday night, Jason Williams died as a result of injuries sustained when his buggy hit a tidal drain and flipped out at rural recreation spot Gunn Point. However, Mr Williams death wasnt the first for the club in 2017. Two other Bears players have also lost their lives in road crashes this year. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in each of the accidents. Braden Scott, 22, died when he hit a power pole on Lovelock Rd in the rural area on March 30. And on June 28, David Garwood, 24, was killed in a single vehicle rollover on Virginia Rd at 11pm. Club members and the rural community barely had time to grieve and process the first loss in March, before being slammed with two more deaths. Some people wonder if the club is cursed. Others believe there may be a lifestyle factor that needs to be considered. CLUB president Nathan Finn said there needs to be a lifestyle change for his rural players particularly around drinking. While the club is diligent with providing coaching and counselling, he said, there were still many challenges to overcome. Drinking and the outdoors are a way of life for Territorians, even more so for those living out of the city. Its a hard situation and the rural area people love the outdoors they love their fishing, they love their hunting, they love their ATVs and all that sort of stuff, he said. And unfortunately, part of the Territory life is usually you sit down around a campfire and have a beer and do that sort of stuff its not so much an education, its a change in how they grow up and the way theyve been brought up. Theyre familiar with the outdoors and going fishing and camping and having a few beers. He said the club had offered support to players and the families of the men who had passed away. A lot of them dont know what they can do ... obviously we have lots of discussion with them in relation to their choices and actions, he said. We all drive a motor vehicle nearly every day (but) we dont always realise the dangers, sometimes, of driving a motor vehicle. Mr Finn has also seen the carnage caused by road tragedies during his day job as a police officer at Palmerston cop shop. He said NT Police had a range of programs in place to raise awareness of reckless driving. The Enoughs Enough campaign was rolled out in December last year and rebooted in June. Despite the warnings, the three accidents still happened and, as Mr Finn said, the senseless deaths had left the club shattered. The effect its had on this small community... its devastating to everyone involved. The simple thing is most people know everyone out here; its usually a friend, a friend of a friend, a best friend, relative or neighbour, he said. Its a sad, frustrated state the guys are in at the moment. It still hasnt sunk in. ANTI-VIOLENCE advocate Charlie King said there were alcohol programs within his No More campaign for clubs to access, despite the schemes main focus being targeted at domestic attacks. Players will commit to not drinking alcohol and attend an alcohol training program, Mr King said. What we try to do is get the club to own the responsibility. Take on the responsibility of finding support for their players. He said clubs could IN a horror run for a rural Darwin rugby league club, three players have been violently killed in road accidents just this year. In a telling and terrible common thread, each was a young man, and each was believed to have been drinking prior to the accident. Club officials are now calling for a cultural change, reports JUDITH AISTHORPE
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