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Changing the picture: preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

A national resource to support the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children

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Violence against women is not an ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander problem’. It is a national problem – one that is prevalent and persistent – in all communities, right across Australia. 

​Download and view the resources

Click to view Changing the picture
Click to view the six-page executive summary
Click to view the background paper

For the best user experience and accessibility, we recommend downloading the resources to your computer and opening the documents in Adobe Reader.



At the same time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience disproportionate rates of violence, and violence that is often more severe. This resource helps us understand why this is, what is needed to change this, and how as a society we can all work together to stop this violence from happening in the first place.

  • A national survey found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women report experiencing violence in the previous 12 months at 3.1 times the rate of non-Indigenous women.1 
  • Hospitalisation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women due to family violence-related assaults are 32 times the rate for non-Indigenous women.2 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are nearly 11 times more likely to die due to assault than non-Indigenous women.3 
  • Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is perpetrated by men of all cultural backgrounds, in many different contexts and settings across the country.  


Changing the picture contains a set of clear actions that are needed to address the many drivers of this violence. Because these drivers are located right across Australian society, this is a national resource – intended to encourage, guide and support a national effort – by many organisations and stakeholders, at many levels and in many settings. 

Our Watch has worked closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop this resource. We have tried to make sure it respects and is informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, and by the many decades of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's activism on this issue, and that it makes central the voices, experiences, ideas and solutions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves.

As a non-Indigenous organisation, we do not claim to have all the solutions. But we are committed to taking responsibility for the change we can help drive, and to playing our part in tackling the drivers of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. And we are committed to working as strong allies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, as they develop and lead solutions in their own communities. 

Our Watch will integrate relevant components of Changing the picture into our own work, and we encourage other organisations and individuals to do so too, as part of a shared national effort to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“The message here is to everyone in Australia: individuals, communities and governments, to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children, we all have a role to play. ”

Women’s Advisory Group message

Who is this for?
Many different stakeholders need to play an active role in the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. For this reason this resource is aimed at a diverse audience — government and non-government, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and including both individuals and organisations. It is relevant both to practitioners who are working ‘on the ground’ (in numerous fields, and in both Indigenous-specific and ‘mainstream’ contexts), as well as those involved in policy development and program funding, design, planning or implementation.

More tools and resources
Read our national framework Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia

You can find all Our Watch tools, research and reports in our resources and publications library

Understand the issue of violence against women with key statistics on our facts and figures page.

Who had input into this resource?
This resource would not have been possible without the generous and critical contributions of many people, all of whom helped shape, inform, and improve the resource as it developed over its two-year lifespan. 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women made up the Advisory Group and provided invaluable expertise and guidance during the development of the resource.  More than 400 people also participated in group consultations around the country and provided passionate, diverse and valuable input. 

This resource was funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Social Services.

Do you want more information? 
If you would like to speak with someone at Our Watch about the resource, please contact us via this website form.

1. ABS (2016), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
2. Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (2016), 4.98 and table 4A.12.13.
3. Based on available national and state and territory datasets: Olsen & Lovett (2016) p. 13, citing Al-Yaman et al (2006).