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Our Watch’s response to an Open Letter concerned at the lack of public concern or response to the killings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

March 26, 2021 / Our Watch media

In this article

An Open Letter authored by Associate Professor Hannah McGlade, Professor Bronwyn Carlson and Dr Marlene Longbottom has called for the rights and concerns of Indigenous women to be central to the national conversation about violence against women. 

The senior Aboriginal academics raised valid concerns about the fact that disclosures of sexual violence by white women in Australia gain national attention and responsiveness, “whereas sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls is being normalised and rendered invisible.” 

It is incumbent upon Our Watch, as a national leader of the prevention of violence against women and their children, to not only listen to the concerns of all women and their communities but to take action and ensure we are doing all we can to drive systemic change. 

Changing the picture, our resource for the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women makes clear that this violence is disproportionate and more severe. It shows that preventing this violence means addressing its intersecting underlying drivers. 

As a country, we must do more to address all of these drivers. This means working to challenge and dismantle both racism and sexism, and to address the legacies and ongoing impacts of colonisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families, and communities. Preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women must be a national priority. 

As a non-Indigenous organisation, Our Watch does not claim to have all the solutions and we are committed to the principles of self-determination. However, we are committed to playing our part to address the drivers of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

We have therefore committed to the following actions: 

  • Increase the visibility of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations through our submissions to governments.
  • Facilitate and support, through a collaborative process and in line with the principles of self-determination, the preparation of a submission to government, calling for the development of aNational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council on violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. 
  • Increase the visibility of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the national conversation as per the organisation’s overall communications strategy.
  • Amplify the primary prevention work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partner organisations.
  • Develop and share a report on our Reconciliation Action Plan and other work to prevent violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Our Watch has also heard the call for better representation in our organisations leadership including at the governance level in the form of a Co-Chair. This decision lies with our Government funders.  

Media contact

Saraya Musovic, Senior Media and Communications Advisor (saraya.musovic@ourwatch.org.au or 0448 844 930) or media@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, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.”

To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit Media Making Change.

About Our Watch

Our Watch leads 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 structures, norms and practices that lead to violence against women and children.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
Woman holding baby.