My name’s Charles, and my story at the moment is about how to redevelop our story. And we talk about the whole process of healing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To me the healing is a journey of restoration. So we need to change the story from a negative one to something that’s positive.
I got caught up in a culture of smoking, got caught up in drinking. My doctor told me that I’d be six foot under if I didn’t give up or do something about the way I was smoking. So that scared me into action, and having a doctor tell me is different from a family telling me. So it wasn’t until I finally realised in my head that it wasn’t the nicotine I was addicted to, it was the habit, it was the thought that I needed it. But since that day, I mean, from two and a half packets a day smoking, I left the packet on my kitchen table, and I haven’t looked back since.
I think the scare from the doctor, you know, a switch went on in my head that said “No, you’re going to die if you keep going”. So that scare alone gave me the power to just say “That’s it, no more”.
Smoking is not part of our culture. It’s become a part of a destructive culture that we’ve latched onto, and we’ve made it become the story of what it’s like to be not only indigenous, but what it’s like to be a man, to be somebody accepted in our community. We have a chance now today to start a whole new different story on how we make our life become a better place, for not only for ourselves but for our children, and for the whole of community, but especially for yourself as a person.