Transforming A Community In Crisis

In 2007, two courageous Indigenous women emerged from a Women’s Bush Meeting in the Kimberley region’s Fitzroy Valley determined to take a stand against the flood of alcohol decimating their community. Emily Carter and June Oscar from the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre built consensus, then successfully campaigned for the introduction of alcohol restrictions in the Valley. Within 12 months, alcoholrelated presentations at the hospital emergency department had dropped by

36 per cent, children were being better cared for, and the town was quieter and cleaner.

A recent documentary funded by a private donor highlighted the work of the women. The film–Yajilarra–became a lever for social change as it attracted more funding for community-instigated projects, and enabled the work of Aboriginal women to be showcased at the highest levels and influence policy across Australia. Yajilarra is being distributed in high schools and universities in Australia and the Asia Pacific region to educate young people globally on the dangers of alcohol and the importance of strong leadership and communities taking control.

For the first time ever, the voices of Indigenous Australian women were heard at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, when June Oscar and Emily Carter accompanied the Minister for the Status of Women, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, to the UN summit in New York. They shared their story and showed a way forward for other communities searching for solutions to dispossession, alcohol abuse and social decay, and received a standing ovation.

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