Marni Cordell writing for New Matilda reports that last Wednesday in Alice Springs busloads of older Indigenous women, and some men, largely from remote communities across the Central Desert, rallied to ask the Government to listen to them, for once, and enact alcohol law reform to solve a problem gravely affecting their lives.
They want one or two ‘takeaway-free’ days per week and a minimum price for cheaper drinks such as cask wine.
“Our culture’s breaking down through all this grog, and we, the women, suffer…The grandmothers have been left with all the little kids,” said Valerie Martin from Yuendumu.
“The alcohol law was supposed to put a stop to child neglect and abuse and also cut back on anti-social behaviour. [But now] they’re drunk driving [more often], and having accidents. There’s no one there to help them, no police or ambulance to go out into the scrub,” said Barbara Shaw from the Alice Springs Town Camp Women’s Group.
Marni notes that while the women from Hermansburg agree with the intervention, everyone she spoke to at the rally agreed that the Federal Government had missed the point on alcohol.
“”Enforced prohibition is not a good thing, and we don’t think that will actually contribute at all,” says Dr John Boffa from the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, a group that has been working on the issue since 1995. “Nothing [has been introduced] to reduce supply – it’s just stopped people drinking in certain locations, and all that does is shift the problem…
Now that the focus is on alcohol, I think it’s time that governments did what works and what’s needed, not necessarily what’s popular.””
One post in reply says,
“Aboriginal women and (some) men have been calling for such initiatives for a long long time. Is anybody listening? Is anybody willing to act? I need to see that either one of these major parties, running for election, have the will to do something.
But one voice of caution. I know a very remote community where the grog is banned, where it is too remote for any large grog running activities and where most people cannot get to the nearest town, but the drug runners are very very active. Drugs come in smaller packages than grog. Deliberate importation of drugs, aligned with the porn, and the activity of introducing the drugs to the youth, and then the demand that they bring younger kids along into the drug use, and the sexual activity, which we call child sexual assault.
This so-called western ‘civilised’ society feels very sick to me. We cannot listen to the voices of kids, nor of women, nor of those good and strong men who speak out. And we have one pollie who turns up to support this rally by the women … a greenie … more power to people like Rachel. And more power to the women and to all people who are willing to stand together.”
This rally voiced a wide range of Indigenous views on the NT Intervention. For the Opposition it could have been a golden opportunity to ‘consult’ the number one recommendation of the Little Children Are Sacred Report BUT “unfortunately Kevin 07 is busy not mentioning Black people.”
The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service, Caylus, who organised the rally invited politicians from all sides but only Greens Senator Rachel Siewart turned up.
How impressed are you with the two major parties?