The group arrives at Fitzroy Crossing. After a Welcome Ceremony by June Oscar and some of the local women, the group learns about the dire impact alcohol had on the community. June Oscar explains how and why the women banded together to wage a war on alcohol.
"We couldn’t continue to live in a community that was being decimated by alcohol. Every aspect of life. Every facet of life was being affected."June Oscar CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre. Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, WA
Ms. June Oscar AO is a Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing in the Central Kimberley region of Western Australia. Recently Ms. Oscar was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia. The Award is a fitting national recognition of her significant personal contribution and long-term commitment to improving the lives of the people in the Fitzroy Valley.
- The small town of Fitzroy Crossing is situated in the Central Kimberley region of Western Australia.
- Monsoon rains periodically flood Fitzroy Crossing and its surrounding floodplains.
- The several Aboriginal language groups that live in the area make up 80% of the population.
- The Bunuba People language group, whose ancestors are the original inhabitants of the region, is the largest group.
The group is heading 1,000km north-east to Fitzroy Crossing. The town and surrounding valley has a population of around 3,500. Death and violence caused by alcohol was rife here. But as the group will now discover this turmoil was before the women of Fitzroy Crossing rose up to give hope to a town that had little.
“First of all I’d like to welcome you to Bunuba country.”
After being officially greeted onto country, local Bunuba woman June Oscar tells the group how women waged a war on alcohol.
June: “We couldn’t continue to live in a community that was just being decimated by alcohol. Every aspect of life. Every facet of life was being affected. And in 2005-6 we had 50 deaths in the valley. Many of them were alcohol related deaths. Our right to a future was important. We had to fight for that future. So the women decided then in July of 2007 enough was enough. We want to pursue restrictions on the sale of full strength alcohol.”
In the first campaign of its kind, June and her supporters won. Full strength take-away alcohol was banned in Fitzroy Crossing. The impact was immediate.
June: ”Within the first 3 to 6 months we saw the presentations at hospital from 85% alcohol related injuries drop to 25, 15%.”
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