Prohibition needs to end

‘Prohibition has never worked anywhere in the world’
The unintended consequences of the AMPs does not stop with sly grogging.

On the nearby community of Mornington Island, a toxic home brew — characterised by its high ethanol content — has ripped through households.

Stashes of illegal alcohol found in Doomadgee
PHOTO More than half of the state’s Indigenous adult population has a criminal charge relating to AMPs.
Frank Mills, the CEO of Mornington Shire Council, said the “hot brew” had its own special recipe made with a potent brewers yeast that sped up the fermentation process.

He has pleaded with the state government to ban the product and stop his residents being “slowly killed”.

“The home brew that’s getting brewed at the moment [has such high] levels of toxicity that it’s actually poisoning people, it’s causing organ failure,” Mr Mills said.

“It’s reputedly instantly addictive [with] very high alcohol content [and] no sugar content.

Home brew in Indigenous communities
PHOTO A toxic home brew, characterised by high ethanol content, has ripped through households.
“You’ve got two or three generations on Mornington Island, whose only type of alcohol they know about is home brew.”

Mr Mills also argued the AMPs had failed on multiple levels.

A council-led analysis of the policy’s impact found almost 40 per cent of presentations at Mornington Island’s hospital and health services were from intoxicated patients.

“How then can you say this is working?” he asked.

“Prohibition has never worked anywhere in the world.”

Across the state, the illegal alcohol trade has landed thousands of people in court.

James Cook University professor Alan Clough spent years researching the policy, and said he felt it criminalised Indigenous people.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.
VIDEO 0:34 A man shows police his slash of home brew.
“The last estimate we had, the numbers [of people] with a charge of at least one breach was 60 per cent, so that’s 6000 adults,” he said.

“That was quite a while ago now so that number may have increased substantially.”

Professor Clough agreed any early positive changes as a result of the restrictions were no longer being achieved.

“We’re seeing indications that the positive effects that were so hard won by 2008 may be unravelling,” he said.

“There clearly needs to be some creative solutions to refreshing the policy, and by that I don’t mean tightening restrictions.”

The outskirts of Doomadgee, where the sign advertising the start of alcohol restrictions has been torn down.
PHOTO The sign advertising the start of alcohol restrictions at Doomadgee has been torn down.
Councils have been lobbying the state government to amend the law, and it has been under official review for six years with no change.

The Government would not say whether it believed the law was working or had achieved its aims, but acknowledged the concerns around sly grogging and home brew.

The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs said “improving the safety and wellbeing of community members will continue to be the focus of Alcohol Management and the review, which is expected to be finalised by early 2019”.

Alcohol litters the roadside on the outskirts of Doomadgee
PHOTO Alcohol litters the roadside on the outskirts of Doomadgee, June 2018.

Deadly, Abby Watt follows dream

Mornington Shire Council extends congratulations to the very first paramedic cadet in the Wellesley Islands, Miss Abby Watt.

She has completed six weeks of training in Brisbane and is officially on the road full time for Queensland Ambulance Services.

An exciting time, CEO Mr Frank Mills says this is an exceptional achievement.

“Miss Watt is an outstanding role model in the region, she is working hard, determined to follow her dream and the council congratulate her efforts.”

Mayor Brad Wilson extended his personal congratulations, “Abby, you make us all proud of your commitment and dedication”.

Keep up the great work.

Indigenous council leading the way

Mornington Shire Council has three representatives in Longreach participating in the LGMA Future Leaders Forum.

CEO Frank Mills says this is a natural step forward for our staff participating.

“Our team is leading the way in the local government arena, which is quite exceptional given we are a remote council,” says Mr Mills.

“Congratulations to Andrew, Keola, and Tatiana.” 

Council welcomes Ministerial Champions

Mornington Shire Council recently welcomed Ministerial Champions, Minister of Emergency Services Craig Crawford and Director General of Queensland Health Michael Walsh to the region.

Mayor Bradley Wilson says it was a very positive meeting overall, with great discussions held.

“It is the start of a great relationship and being able having a genuine discussion on the way forward and paving the way for the future of Mornington Island put us in a great position.”

As one of Australia’s most remote regions, additional government support is paramount to the overall progress achieved by Mornington Shire Council.

Left in the dark

A remote Indigenous council in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in Queensland says the community’s safety is in jeopardy and local police cannot perform their job properly as most of the town of about 1,000 residents has been without street lights for approximately 15 months.

The Mornington Shire Council said a significant number of street lights on Mornington Island, which are owned by the council, were damaged by lightning in February 2017.

Chief executive Frank Mills said the council had been trying to get the lights fixed by Ergon Energy ever since to protect the safety of the community.

New police officers for Wellesley Islands

Officers from the Mount Isa District Cross Cultural Unit attended Mornington Island to deliver initial training to their new Community Police Officers on Tuesday, March 20.

The Community Police Officers work hand-in-hand with Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers and Police Liaison Officers.

Cross Cultural Liaison Officer Sergeant Chris Mitchell said the Community Police Officers played an important role.

“The Community Police Officers will be assisting police with all facets of proactive community engagement focusing on youth culturally specific topics, assisting council and police in operational duties, and engagement through PCYC,” Serg Mitchell said.

“These in turn all benefit the Mornington Island community.”

Police Officers Basil Gangala and Lester Langley were congratulated

There are four positions in total leaving two positions waiting to be filled.

Anyone wishing to apply for the role can apply through Mornington Island Shire Council.

The positions are in partnership with Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Trad visits remote region

This week acting premier Jackie Trad visited the pristine Wellesley Island region to meet with Mornington Shire Council.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Isaacs said the visit was to support council’s plans to improve health, education and sustainability.

“We are always extremely excited to welcome the acting premier to showcase all of the remarkable things happening on the ground,” Cr. Isaacs said.

Ms Trad inspected major infrastructure works built by local indigenous employees, sighted proposed locations for upcoming works and discussed the major changes to the alcohol management plan and service delivery review.

Ms Trad said she was “pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with council and I commend them for all of the hard work being done and what has been achieved”.

“Mornington Island is one of the first communities I’ve been able to visit as the new Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and I’ve been very impressed with the passion and dedication shown by Bradley, Sarah and all the councillors,” Ms Trad said.

“We had a great meeting and I know that this community has got really big ideas and a big vision for their future and its fantastic to see and be here.”

Cr. Isaacs said the visit “only highlights Mornington Shire Council are making big moves in the local government arena and we are only just getting started”.

“It’s not often we have such distinguished company come and visit and for Hon. Jackie Trad to make the long trip up here and have that honest conversation I feel is a positive start to a longstanding relationship,” Cr Isaacs said.

“Our residents are driving change and working hard to strengthen the region.

“Our vision is supported by highly ranked government officials and this gives further clarification – Mornington Shire Council are in an exciting space and moving in the right direction,” she said.

Mornington Shire Council © 2020