Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Women successfully drive community solutions to alcohol in Fitzroy Valley

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, congratulated the women of the Fitzroy Valley today for their courage, strength and determination in the solutions they have put forward to rebuild their community after many years of alcohol abuse.

After attending the week-long Fitzroy Valley Women’s Bush Meeting, Commissioner Broderick said, “I am inspired by the work of the Fitzroy Valley women and the strategies discussed at the Bush Meeting, many of which are among the most innovative in Australia”.

The women of the four Fitzroy Valley language groups - Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Walmajarri and Wangkatjungka - have identified ‘on country’ education; the identification and treatment of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder; the mentoring and development of young women in leadership; and the development of economic partnerships to build security for women and their children, as strategic priorities.

"All women and children have the right to be healthy and live a life free of violence," said Commissioner Broderick, "and it is for this reason that the women of Fitzroy Valley have such a strong belief in and commitment to having these alcohol restrictions in their community."

Commissioner Broderick said it was particularly significant that these initiatives have been generated by the local people to address problems within their own community, rather than being devised and imposed upon them by outside bodies, such as government.

“It is tremendously important for us to appreciate and value the strength and effectiveness of community-generated solutions to community-identified social problems,” said Commissioner Broderick. “We should also understand the likelihood that good community-generated solutions will enjoy far greater community support, and thus be more effective, than those solutions imposed from outside, no matter how well intentioned.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, said the success of the Fitzroy Valley alcohol management strategies lie in their ‘bottom-up’ approach.

“The Fitzroy Valley women worked long and hard with the men, families and their entire community to develop this solution from the ground up,” Commissioner Calma said. “Community-driven and community-owned initiatives always offer the best chance for sustainable success.”

Commissioner Calma said he congratulated the women of Fitzroy Valley for doing what it takes to address the social issues within their community.

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529