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Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (October 2011)

Published: November, 2011

Above (l-r): Fraser Mangaraka and Tim McNamara hope others can learn from their story

Two men turning down the grog tap

 Fraser Mangaraka and Tim McNamara from near Ntaria (Hermannsburg), live at Hidden Valley town camp in Alice Springs.

After living with alcohol in one way or another for 30 years, the men formed a pact to try and stay off the grog – or ngwaarlenge (eng-gwa-la), as it’s known in Arrernte.

But the men say they couldn’t have kept on their path without the support of the Hidden Valley Community Centre, run by Tangentyere Council.

“We wouldn’t be sitting down here sober,” says Fraser.

Tim agrees: “The centre is really helping our people to do what we want to do.”

The centre has been up and running again since 2004 but was seen more as a women’s and children’s space until more recently when Tangentyere brought in men’s caseworker Caisley Sinclair.

Another boost came earlier this year when NT Department of Justice funding allowed the centre to provide three months of male health and wellbeing workshops, including drug and alcohol counselling, strength and relaxation techniques and overnight camps out bush.

Another result was 'Men Living with Alcohol', a dvd featuring the story of Tim and Fraser, filmed and produced by Vincent Lamberti and Lisa Albert from Fringe Dweller Films.

Up to eight men were involved in the workshops, with Tim and Fraser making the biggest changes in their lives. “Me and Fraser was just about drinking every day – we didn’t know what the centre was for.

Caisley helped us to go down to Drug and Alcohol mob, Congress mob…they give us little bit information about grog and we realise that we gotta stop this drinking and we did.”

Now they continue to provide a firewood service to parts of the camp, taking care of the Community Centre’s vegetable and herb garden and have even tried out Yoga through the strength and relaxation sessions.

“People got their own choice to give up or keep going (on the grog),” said Tim.

“At least we are doing our best to stop what we (were) doing. I think it’s good for our little children to see us when we get up in the morning. That’s what we make this little documentary about, for people to see what we are, through our lives, not just only for us but for everybody to see what they doing, they doing exactly the same (as) what we (were) doing, they should see this dvd and think, 'these two guys telling the story that’s true, we all in it, we all alcoholic, we know this life is destroy us, somehow we all gotta change.' Maybe telling our story can help people to realise what they doing.”