May 31, 2019
Aurukun Shire Council will not proceed with a trial event allowing limited amounts of mid-strength beers to be consumed after the Aurukun community overwhelmingly voted no to reintroducing alcohol in their community.
The Council asked service providers and residents if they wanted a one-off event for three hours to trial the consumption of a limited amount of alcohol in a controlled environment.
Mayor Dereck Walpo said the event was proposed in view of Aurukun’s Alcohol Management Plan, which had been in place since 2008, and talking to other Indigenous communities about their experiences of moving forward to allow responsible drinking.
“After consulting with those councils we developed a proposal which was presented at a stakeholder meeting and at a community forum where people could ask questions,” he said.
“The community was invited to give feedback in writing which Council considered at a special meeting today (May 31) and after noting the concerns of respondents all councillors voted to not proceed with the event.
“Council received 33 submissions against the event and five for it, with some saying they supported the eventual reintroduction of alcohol to Aurukun but did not believe the time was right now.
“They believed Aurukun was still in a stage of healing after having alcohol forced on to the community in the 1980s and that it was better to focus on opportunities for personal and community development.
“Some feared it would be the start of a slide back to the days of spiralling domestic violence, poor school attendance, terrible health statistics and elder abuse.
“The issue of sly grog was also raised with frustration that the police did not have the resources to stop it coming into the community.”
One submission said “we needed to concentrate on unity within families, between the five clans and between the Wik people and the service providers”.
It went on to say that “many of us remember the days before alcohol came into our lives. It was a time of proud unity, of harmony, no violence, no suicide and no homicides”.
Mayor Walpo said Aurukun Shire Council was committed to working with the community to ensure people living in the Shire were safe, had access to education and health facilities, and the opportunity for employment.
“We will continue to work with service providers to achieve these goals and lobby the state and federal governments to provide adequate resources, infrastructure and community services to deal with these problems,” he said.