Gumbuli Wurramara aboriginal elder of Arnhem Land standing against alcohol

The story of the Anglican Aboriginal Churches in the Northern Territory cannot be told without including Gumbuli. He was the first Aboriginal person to be ordained as priest in the NT, and only the 2nd Anglican Aboriginal priest in Australia.

He was respected by many at Ngukurr for standing against alcohol being brought into the community. The community had already experienced what it was like to have alcohol freely available. He was aware of the violence and problems that went with the alcohol and wanted his community spared from the consequences of binge drinking, violence, sleepless nights, and frightened women and children who were unable to sleep because of the noise and fear of the violence.

Gumbuli also played a key role in the use of the local language in church. He preached and taught in Kriol. He was a strong supporter of the Kriol Bible Translation project. He selected the first Aboriginal members of the Kriol team and encouraged the translation work. He strongly advocated for Aboriginal partnership in the translation work and insisted that they needed the whole bible Kriol. In 2007 when the Kriol bible was dedicated and presented to the people he was very proud of what had been achieved and encouraged people to use it. He understood the value of reading the bible and preaching in the language the people spoke.

Extracts from EFAC Australia – Joy Sandefur’s book review “Gumbuli of Ngukurr”.

Continue reading “Gumbuli Wurramara aboriginal elder of Arnhem Land standing against alcohol”

Aurukun pastor says beer trucks introduced darkest decade in the history of Aurukun

[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 [1985].

“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

Aboriginal Elder Joe Brown calling for total grog ban at Kurnangki

‘Aboriginal elder Joe Brown, 63, a leader of Kurnangki, one of three communities bordering the town centre, said children as young as 12 were into drugs and alcohol.

“We should have a total grog ban,” he said.

Mr Brown, whose 25-year-old son committed suicide last year, said he did not want the army brought in to WA but supported extending to the state the total alcohol bans being proposed in the territory.

Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation chairman Ivan McPhee, an elder, said the situation in the town was getting worse. He wants tougher alcohol restrictions, including a total ban on takeaway sales, and says the issues are the same as those confronting most of the Kimberley.

“Our kids are going out of control, wandering around with no jobs,” he said. “We are losing a lot of young people to alcohol and drugs. We never heard anything about hanging until drugs and alcohol came.

“We are having a funeral every day. A lot of people are talking about (child sex abuse). We are hearing things about rape.”’

Jessica Strutt, ‘Elders call for more alcohol bans’, The Age, 14 July 2007.

WA premier says alcohol bans certainly reduce crime

WA Premier Colin Barnett says he would support permanent restrictions on buying alcohol in Port Hedland after takeaway sales were banned on Friday.

“I think that’s got a lot of merit, where alcohol bans have been put in place … it certainly reduces crime, it reduces domestic violence, kids go to school and communities are far better off,” Mr Barnett told reporters. Continue reading “WA premier says alcohol bans certainly reduce crime”

Complete alcohol ban: violence out, schools up

The head of WA’s [Western Australia’s] Aboriginal Health Council is calling for alcohol to be made illegal in indigenous communities across the State as the Government considers implementing liquor bans in at least three more townships.

Henry Councillor said the early success of a complete alcohol ban imposed on the remote east Kimberley outpost of Oombulgurri should be held up as a model of what could be achieved in other communities [comment: indigenous or not].

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The Fence or the Ambulance

JOHN N. HURTY, M.D.

‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,

Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant.

But over its terrible edge there had slipped

A duke and full many a peasant.

So the people said something would have to be done,

But their projects did not at all tally,

Some said, ‘Put a fence ‘round the edge of the cliff’;

Some, ‘An ambulance down in the valley.’ Continue reading “The Fence or the Ambulance”