In 1973, respected Elder, Uncle Cyril ‘Bumpa’ Coaby, got together with now Greens Party member and respected Elder, Uncle Moogy Sumner, and a few others, to get themselves off the grog. What started as a group of brothers trying to stay sober, driving around in a clapped out old car that needed one its doors held shut with an over-hanging elbow out the window, to get others to follow suite, transformed into the Aboriginal Sobriety Group.
Based in South Australia (but now with interstate clients), the ASG helps to address substance abuse, homelessness, mental health and more, and has been a staple of Indigenous leadership and advancement for more than 40 years, and is only growing. With several sites across Adelaide, Monarto and the Riverland, the ASG aids those in need. This is thanks to a lot of passionate individuals who share Bumpa’s vision and uphold his legacy – albeit with little funding.
One of NITV’s latest ‘Our Stories’ episodes is Bumpa’s Legacy – which aired on January 2, and explores who Bumpa is, what he is about, his experiences, and his important legacy – the Aboriginal Sobriety Group. Bumpa’s Legacy is currently available to watch for free on SBS on demand.
Written and Directed by Bumpa’s grandson, Darren Harris (pictured, to the left), the film covers how Bumpa, Uncle Moogy and the other members of the newly formed ASG began championing their vision. While the mob from 1973 recall their memories from the beginning, we also hear from current and more recent clients who have either turned their life around, or are in the process, as well as Darren Harris himself.
Harris wanted to make a film about Bumpa because “He’s (Bumpa) got all this wealth of knowledge and we need to try and capture as much as we can on film so we can pass it down through generations”.
Harris goes on to say, “It wasn’t just about what he established with the foundation of the Aboriginal Sobriety Group, but his whole life journey. From the bombing of Darwin, evacuation from Darwin, all the way to Katherine, then down to Balaklava, SA.”
“I understand there’s not a lot of attention out there in the media unless its of a negative nature and it’s quite rare that we see our mob succeeding portrayed through the media”, which the ever-selfless Harris says is another issue he wanted to address.
Founder and CEO of Ochre Dawn, Rebecca Wessels (pictured, to the right) was on board as a producer for the short film, which was not her first time on the film set, having assisted on another couple short films for ‘Our Stories’ in the past, one including the journey of her own mother, a member of the Stolen Generation, as well as making corporate films through Ochre Dawn. Rebecca was interested in this film from the beginning, after being contacted about it by Adelaide’s Media Resource Centre.
Rebecca’s experience in youth work, helped convince her that this community driven organization was certainly worth making a film about. Wessels says “I’m a former youth worker myself so anything around community services is interesting to me and a passion.”
But everything needed to come together just right. Wessels recalls that after a “coffee and a chat, it just sounded wonderful, not just from the community impact perspective but the films perspective that it was going to be about his (Darren Harris) grandfather’s legacy”.
Bumpa’s Legacy, is an inspiring, gentle film – a successful collaboration between Darren and Rebecca that shows that Indigenous leadership, ingenuity and determination is alive and well, and has been for a very long time.
The Aboriginal Sobriety Group is an important not-for-profit organization.