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​New resource coming to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

July 25 2017 By Emma Partridge and Karla McGrady

Our Watch is currently developing a resource to improve Australia’s approach to the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

This is a companion piece to the national framework Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia developed by Our Watch, VicHealth and ANROWS and released in 2015. The new resource focuses specifically on violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women – particularly on understanding its underlying drivers and developing appropriate principles for effective, long-term prevention policy and practice.

The resource will emphasise the high prevalence and complex nature of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It considers this violence in the context of broader colonial violence and specifically the traumatic intergenerational impacts of dispossession, the forced removal of children, the interruption of cultural practices that mitigate against interpersonal violence, and the ongoing and cumulative economic exclusion and disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Work on this project is ongoing, and is being led by Manager, Policy, Dr Emma Partridge, and Senior Advisor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children, Karla McGrady, with advice from an expert Advisory Group comprising 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from around the country. Read more about the conceptual approach, project governance, research and consultations here

Emerging findings

While work on the resource is ongoing, preliminary findings from the research review and consultations undertaken to date point to the importance of incorporating a number of key principles into any work that seeks to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. These include:
  • Understanding and addressing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women not in isolation, but in relation to a wide range of other issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities. A gendered analysis alone is insufficient and inappropriate to properly understand this issue within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community context.
  • Addressing the underlying drivers of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. These drivers are multiple, complex and interrelated, and none can be effectively addressed in isolation. They include the intersection of issues relating to colonisation and its ongoing contemporary impacts – particularly intergenerational trauma, together with racism and structural discrimination, and gendered factors.
  • Ensuring that prevention programs and initiatives that seek to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are trauma-informed and healing focused, that practitioners have high levels of cultural competency, and that any such initiatives create an environment of cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Adopting a holistic, whole-of-community focus that works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, men and children and young people – both separately and together. Prevention practice needs to both address the different needs and issues within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and work holistically in order to strengthen whole communities to prevent violence.
  • The need for locally developed, locally relevant solutions that engage and empower local communities.
  • The need to uphold principles of Indigenous ownership, governance and self-determination wherever possible – by supporting or enabling Indigenous organisations to develop and lead work on this issue in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • The need for mainstream as well as Indigenous organisations to address this issue, because violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is perpetrated in all kinds of contexts and settings across Australia, including mainstream settings, and in every geographical context where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women live - from urban areas, to regional and remote communities.

Media contact:

Hannah Grant, Media Manager, Our Watch: 0448 844 930 or hannah.grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

Read guides for reporting about violence against women and their children.

About Our Watch

Our Watch’s purpose is to raise awareness and engage policy-makers and the Australian community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.

To do this the organisation works to increase gender equality and respect in all aspects of everyday life, such as through schools; workplaces; media; sporting organisations; social marketing, and developing and influencing public policy.

Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.