Role model speaks out on booze issues
BOOZE is the greatest killer of all men’s dignity, according to Mossman social worker Richard Burchill.
For the past two years Mr Burchill has been working for Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs prevention (ATODS) as a community support worker and he sees first-hand the destructive force of people abusing alcohol.
“It’s not just the blackfellas that drink too much, it’s the whitefellas too,” Mr Burchill said.
“But we all have to forget about the colour of people’s skin and restore their dignity so they no longer harm themselves or their families.
“That loss of dignity is one of the core values as to why people turn to the bottle to find comfort in their lives.”
From his small office at the Mossman hospital, Mr Burchill deals with many sad cases each day and has to try and help people who are in the very pit of despair and turn their situation around so that they once again can take charge of their own lives.
Sometimes he wins, but most of the time it’s a hard slog.
He has been recognised recently for his efforts with an encouragement award in the inaugural National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol awards.
Mr Burchill was one of just seven people from across the whole country to be recognised after being nominated by a work colleague.
Unhappiness is usually the main reason people turn to the bottle.
Mr Burchill said that loss of dignity, especially to Aboriginal people, has come about through colonisation.
“You have to remember our people were here for thousands of years living a life that they carved out for themselves, and were designed for, and one that worked, and then along came the whitefellas, and that’s fine, but they have expected us to live their way of life in just 240 years of settlement - it’s a big ask,” Mr Burchill said.
He said the only real way forward, if everyone is serious, is that we must all work together as a tight-knit rugby league team.
“The five-eighth cannot be running to the centre and sees that he’s black and say, ’I hate blacks’, and so therefore I am not going to pass him the ball - and it’s the same with the blackfella, he can’t say that he’s not going to pass the ball because ’he hates whites’,” Mr Burchill said.
“We all have to look through our hearts to each other and not our eyes if we all want to get along and enjoy Mother Earth.”
Mr Burchill has a number of programs in place to help people beat the booze and one of them is the holistic approach that seems to be working very well.
“I take people on cultural healing camps and get them to open up and talk about their problems and then I show them that the healing process is two-way street,” he said.
“We can help them get back to proper living but they too must take responsibility and respect themselves and their families if they are to succeed.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with alcohol, call ATODS on 40841232.
Leading the way: Richard Burchill