Today, national violence prevention organisation Our Watch gave evidence at the coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Kumanjayi Haywood, Ngeygo Ragurrk, Miss Yunupingu and Kumarn Rubuntja, who were killed by current or ex-partners. This is the final hearing of the Northern Territory inquest.
Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly who gave in-person evidence, said that the tragic deaths of these four Aboriginal women were not inevitable, but preventable and part of a wider Northern Territory and national emergency of violence against women.
Our Watch’s Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Regan Mitchell also gave evidence at the inquest and spoke about the powerful actions that can help prevent this violence.
Ms Kinnersly acknowledged that these acts of violence cause deep harm and hurt for families and communities.
“This is our national shame that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are significantly more likely to experience violence, and that violence is often more severe,” Ms Kinnersly said.
“Everyone has the right to be safe and equal, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, 11 times more likely to die due to assault and 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of that violence.
“We must use this inquest as a wake-up call, to commit to actions to stop this violence before it starts.
“A huge misconception is that this an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander problem, but the truth is this an Australian one and a result of a long history of racial inequality and colonisation alongside gender inequality.” Ms Kinnersly said.
Ms Mitchell said: “We need commitment to a holistic response, with significant investment across the whole continuum from prevention and early intervention work, right through to crisis response work and everything in between.
“If, as a country, we say we really care about this crisis for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men, we will commit to this in a genuine way, in a long-term way, in an intensive way that is culturally safe, community led and that is informed and designed by the people who are living in it and working in it day in day out,” Ms Mitchell said.
“An intensive collaborative approach is required that is tailored to the context of the NT that takes in all the layers, and builds on the enormous wisdom and strengths of the oldest continuous culture on earth.”
As part of their evidence, Our Watch called for four key actions including:
- Building the foundations for primary prevention work and a prevention workforce.
- A supportive and collaborative approach where everyone who works across governments, community organisations and the private sector is involved and has a role to play in preventing violence against women and promoting gender equality.
- Long-term funding and commitment across primary prevention, early intervention, response, and recovery.
- Ongoing commitment to the implementation of respectful relationships education.
For more information in preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women read Changing the picture.
About Our Watch
Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the practices, norms, and structures that lead to violence against women and children.