A good idea that went wrong’: The rise and fall of two Aboriginal licensed clubs in northern Australia

Using interviews with protagonists and documentary sources, this seminar examines the development of two licensed social clubs that were designed to inculcate responsible drinking practices for their Aboriginal clientele. The Murrinh Patha Social Club at Wadeye was designed by well-meaning Catholic missionaries in the late 1970s, in a post-prohibition effort to teach moderation in a safe environment and the Tyeweretye Social Club in Alice Springs was established in the early 1990s for very similar reasons. Both clubs met vehement opposition from Aboriginal temperance activists which contributed to their demise and they largely failed to achieve their aims. In this paper I will argue that the clubs had a greater impact on political and social relations than they did on drinking behaviour.

Dr Maggie Brady is a Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research.