Against enormous odds, Vincent is getting his life back on track following 20+ years of alcohol and drug dependency. Three debilitating strokes in 2019 were the catalyst Vincent needed to change his life and adopt healthy coping mechanisms.
“The first stroke temporarily paralysed me and the second one took my voice. I knew if I didn’t change something, I was going to die. I got off the drugs and booze and started painting again.”
Prior to his addictions and strokes, Vincent made a living creating and selling his Aboriginal art. Learning the trade from his brothers, Vincent was commissioned to create artwork for various high-profile organisations including the Salvation Army. But as he started heading down a dark path, his passion for art fell to the wayside.
“I’ve been painting again for six or eight months now, with EACH. They helped me recover from the strokes too, learning to talk and move again. My goal is to become a great painter again. All that was taken away from me, because of the silly things I used to do.”
Vincent says his art has allowed him to reconnect with his culture, often focusing on land, animals and water. He draws inspiration from his family in the Northern Territory, who he says come from a traditional bush upbringing and still speak exclusively in language today.
“Up that way, if you want a feed, you go out and you kill an animal. It is shared throughout everybody in the community; no one goes hungry. Everyone is related and they all look out for one another. I want to get better at my art so I can show what traditional life is still like up in Tennant Creek.”
Owning his mistakes and taking steps to repent, Vincent is now intent on moving forward to become the role model he wants to be for his family.
“At my worst I was drinking two cases of rum a day and my diabetes was out of control. I wouldn’t listen to anyone, I wouldn’t take tablets, I wouldn’t go to the doctor. It was bad. But I’ve got family now, kids and grandkids and I want to help bring them up the right way, not the wrong way.”
“It’s not for myself that I’m doing this, I’m doing it for them.”
Vincent is testament to the strength of the human spirit, not to mention the grit and determination needed to redirect a catastrophic situation. He says it’s never too late and if he can turn his life around, everyone can – with the right support.
“If I kept going on the path I was going, it would be game over. But I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to be like my dad, who’s 90 now. I’ve always been very close to him and looked up to him. Having RFQ has been good too – they visit me every week and have a chat and a cuppa.”
“My goal is to do something positive with my life and make those around me happy, as well as make myself happy and get better. I’m not angry anymore. I make sure I’m not around people who are drinking. I move away from them and go and have a coffee instead or go for a walk. I’m making better decisions now.”