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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fitzroy women don't want grog: whitefella vacillates

Michael Byrt's mural in Redfern, Sydney featuring Aboriginal children
The majority of Aboriginal society is willing to come to terms with alcohol - but mainstream Australian society doesn't want to talk about it.
In major centres across the island continent, there is extraordinary access to alcohol. In spite of the abuse of alcohol in white dominated society causing great suffering - road trauma and deaths; illness, hospitalization, and deaths; child abuse and deaths; domestic violence and deaths - we refuse to talk about it.
We refuse to consider limiting the extraordinary opening hours of alcohol retailing outlets. In fact, time and again Australians have been told that an increase in the availability of alcohol at extraordinary times through retailing outlets (and I mean not just outlets attached to food retailing outlets but pubs, clubs, and nightclubs etc) will lead to more civilized drinking practices - just like Europe. Mmmm...!
But in Aboriginal communities the majority of women - particularly the grandmothers - are quite clear about what needs to be done in about the availability of alcohol. Now the women of Fitzroy Crossing have added their voices.
Not that all women are stone-cold sober but the brunt of picking up the pieces goes to women, particularly older women, the grandmothers.
But whitefellas can be relied upon not to be reliable on this issue. Police may well be supportive - but those reliant on public opinion like politicians seldom are. Whitefellas vacillate in the same way Brough did recently at Santa Teresa when there appeared to be some move away from the previous public statements by the Howard Government that alcohol would not be available at Aboriginal communities.
Of course, the topic of ready availability at all hours in mainstream communities doesn't get a guernsey - with the exception of Tennant Creek.