[Herbert Yunkaporta, a local pastor at Aurukun, Queensland.]
In 1985, the Queensland government forced the imposition of a wet canteen at Aurukun against the vehement objection of elders.
Within a decade, homicides, non-existent at Aurukun during much of the mission era, had risen exponentially, and suicides were not far behind.
He vividly remembers … the day that alcohol came to Aurukun .
“The memory is so clear to me,” Herbert says.
“We were walking down to the river to have a swim, and we saw these trucks come in laden with pallets of beer stacked up. We just stood there in silence, in amazement, just speechless.”
The wet canteen adjoined the park and was surrounded by a fence, but it didn’t stop young people breaking the rules.
“I remember seeing a boy who was my age actually put a hole through a fence and suck on a beer from a jug,” Herbert says.
“This is where I believe that Aurukun started nosediving down. That next decade alone was the darkest decade in the history of Aurukun.”
Natasha Robinson, “‘Aurukun needs to be awakened’: Local pastor hopes town at ‘turning point’ after difficult past”, ABC News, 27 May 2016