SERVICE providers have welcomed a plan to tackle the family violence that has led to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women being 35 times more likely to be hospitalised for related assaults than other Australian women.
The Aboriginal Family Violence Protection and Legal Service Victoria’s Solutions to Addressing Family Violence outlines eight measures to reduce family violence, particularly against women.
While the service is not gender-specific, 93 per cent of its clients are women and children.
Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative chief executive officer Raylene Harradine and Centre for Non-Violence CEO Margaret Augerinos both said the plan offered a straightforward approach to address the issue.
“I think it’s a real common-sense plan,” Ms Augerinos said.
Two of the steps listed in the plan are ensuring the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are heard in decision-making and the promotion of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
Ms Harradine highlighted these aspects of the plan as two of its strengths.
“At the end of the day, we never hear the voice of our community because they feel so isolated because of what they’re experiencing,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Ms Augerinos.
“We need to hear from Aboriginal women and Aboriginal communities about the solutions that work for them,” she said.
Ms Harradine said the plan’s focus on bolstering cultural identity was vital, because young people with a strong connection to their culture and their identity did not tend to fall into trouble as much as those who felt disconnected.
Other steps in the plan include investing in FVPLS Victoria’s services, promoting healthy relationships, addressing systemic failures, increasing cultural awareness in the mainstream sector and avoiding child removal.
The plan explains Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to experience family violence than non-Aboriginal women because of the disadvantage they face as a result of racism, poverty and gender inequality.
Ms Augerinos said Aboriginal women’s experiences of family violence were often compounded by a lack of confidence in police and mainstream services, stemming from historical and current responses that had had detrimental consequences, such as child removal.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. In an emergency, call 000.