To: the Licensing Officer
Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
P.O. Box 2378
QLD 4870

Dear Sir,

I would like to lodge an objection to the granting of a Liquor Licence in the Indigenous community of Aurukun. I lived for several years in Aurkun in the late 1980’s (pre-licence and post-licence) and witnessed first hand what an alcohol licence did to the place. From the very first day of selling alcohol at Aurukun the people suffered enormous hardship from drunkeness and domestic violence. For years the violence and abuse was widespread throughout the whole community every night and day the Tavern was operating. Women and children were the worst hit. Murder was regular, child abuse rampant and school attendance levels were abysmal. The statistics are there if you care to inquire.

The people of Aurukun as a whole did not want this fall headlong into chaos to happen. Two community referendums voted overwhelmingly a resounding NO to the question of whether a licence should be operating in their town. Their wishes were ignored and the then Bejelki-Petersen government and the Shire Coucillors proceeded to allow the grog in.

It was nearly 20 years before an Alcohol Management Plan was implemented to bring some relief to a lost generation, brought up with violence, drunkeness, abuse and murder as a normal part of their daily lives. The AMP finally brought some improvement but it wasn’t until the revoking of the Licence late last year that people (who could remember) at last saw a return to the peaceful days of pre-Licence Aurukun. Violence has since all but disappeared, children are sleeping at night and school attendances have hit new highs not seen for nearly two decades.

As a school teacher and friend to the community I travel to Aurukun usually two or three times a year to offer support to the school and the people. I know many teachers who dread the thought of the Tavern being open again. It means sleepless noise filled nights and poor attendance at the school by the children, not to mention the fear of violence, child abuse and yes, unfortunately, even murder. Many good teachers refused to go to teach at Aurukun because of the problems the Tavern has caused over the years, and Aurukun’s bad reputation still persists despite the improved situation there this year. To re-issue a licence in Aurukun would be to continue the appalling educational and social standards of the last 15-20 years instead of building on the great improvements that have occurred this year and the slight improvements of the last couple of recent years of AMP.

In the name of child protection please hear the echos of the voices of those elders and leaders of the Aurukun community from 20 years ago who foresaw the tragedy ahead of them when they led the people in a resounding NO vote in the community referendums. Those elders and leaders are nearly all gone now, but their wisdom has been vindicated by the events of the last 20 years. Now is a chance to honour their foresight by doing what is best for the people of Aurukun and NOT issuing a Liquor Licence again. Let the breweries, the Shire Council and and the Licensee make their money out something more ethical and honest and not out of the suffering, poverty and damaged lives that alcohol causes in Aurukun.

Thank you for receiving my objection,

Yours soberly,

Noel Waterman