After morning worship in Alice Springs the churchyard often sees over 100 Indigenous worshippers joining with non-aboriginal members in vibrant fellowship and happy conversation. Children bustle around, there is laughter, tea and coffee, fruit, bread and worshippers wander in and out of the Living History space recently established in the Old Church building, accessing old photographs of family and mission history.
This healthy reality stands in stark contrast to the challenges faced by many during the rest of the week.
So many Aboriginal central Australians, including Lutherans, struggle with the challenge of alcohol addiction. The life-destroying effect of alcohol in central Australia has been well documented recently. In this small township there are over 90 Liquor licenses. Bars open at 10 am and are full by midday. Many Lutheran aboriginal children are attending ten funerals a year of loved ones who have died as a direct result of the impact of alcohol – either through catastrophic health collapse, accident, murder or violence. It is difficult to imagine the trauma of grief such children are carrying.
Current strategies, while well-intentioned, have not resulted in significant decreases in alcohol consumption. In order to help save the lives of many, members of the congregation and Lutherans from the remote communities are calling on the government to make the following changes:
- End the all-day trade in alcohol in Alice Springs
- Reform welfare to prevent payments being spent on alcohol
- Close down several problem liquor outlets
- One day per week where no take-away alcohol is available
You may like to assist us by writing to the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to voice your concerns about the death and destruction due to alcohol abuse in central Australia.
You can email the Minister at the following address: JMacklin.MP@aph.gov.au
The postal address is The Honourable Jenny Macklin, PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600.
As a church we are called to lift our voice on behalf of those who are suffering and whose life is in danger. So many families, across so many Lutheran congregations of the desert, are finding their lives destroyed. Pray for a government with the courage to tackle the alcohol industry and to bring all necessary reform in health, in education, and in employment.