The night air was still and the semi-rural setting on the Fitzroy river was peaceful. For a few hours I settled into the rhythm of what was a fortunate candid discussion with someone who had quickly won my respect; a man who was a loving father and husband, tireless spiritual health worker and accomplished singer-muscian.
Sitting with Patrick Davies outside the front of his home not far from the Fitzroy River late one night in May 2009 I discovered I was listening to a rare thing; a man with passion in his words and a significant achievement in his past.
Here was a man summarizing his activism; controversial work that sought to stem the flood of alcohol that had been coming into his community for decades. Here was a man revealing the local opposition and ostracism he and his family were now experiencing because he cared to stand up to the status quo that stood to benefit from the continuation of a flood of grog money.
“These kids,” he said in a quieter slower voice, one befitting the gravity of what he was about to say, “the ones with FAS, some are barely moving their arms around in school. It’s tragic, it’s the grog – it’s killing us.”
On hearing this simple tragic detail I fell silent.
Here was a man who was living, breathing and acting on policy he had help shape, fight for, implement and continue to defend each day in his community. Here was a man who had moved beyond the tangle of ABS figures, crisis meeting agendas and consultations to, with his wife and a group of fiercely strong women, put a stop to one of the most damaging forces in the lives of the people in his community – alcohol.
Background: For about 10 days in May 2009 I camped on the sandy banks of the Fitzroy River near the “old crossing” a couple of kilometres out of town. During the day I would head in and take the time to talk to all sorts of people who were open for a chat as they went about their daily lives. From time to time, usually on dusk, I caught up with Patrick and his son fishing down on the old crossing.
Location: Fitzroy Crossing in the region of Australia in Western Australia known as the Kimberley.