Our Watch acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land across Australia on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and recognise the continuing connection Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had to land, culture, knowledge and language for over 65,000 years.
Our Watch recognises that 26 January is a day when many Australians come together to celebrate our diverse and rich cultural heritage. While we have reasons to celebrate our history and successes, it’s important to understand that for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and allies this is a day of significant pain, sorrow and hurt.
Our Watch’s vision is an Australia where all women live free from all forms of violence. To achieve this for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, we first need to be open to truth telling and deep listening.
The historical significance of 26 January marks the beginning of European colonisation in Australia and its devastating and long-lasting impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and cultures. Devastating impacts since colonisation have included massacres, displacement, forced child removals, disease, segregation, loss of language and cultural practices, and the denial of traditional ways of life.
The impact of this today, in the present: the loss of culture and language, the significant family and community dislocation, the negative impacts on health and wellbeing and the ongoing impacts of systemic racism and discrimination.
Connected to this history, we must acknowledge and address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women due to the combined impact of racism, colonisation, and gender inequality.
This year, 26 January also comes in the context of the recent Voice Referendum, and the considerable hurt felt by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at both the process and outcome of the Referendum. The Referendum, from an Our Watch perspective, was an opportunity to create more mechanisms to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about ways to accelerate the elimination of all forms of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.
Challenging racism and addressing the ongoing impacts of colonisation are a critical part of preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Our Watch continues to be committed to doing this work alongside, and in support of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues, partners, and communities.
We commit to walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to calling out racism and discrimination, and seeking the voices and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our work.
26 January is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on what it means to be Australian, and how we can collectively build a future that is safe, equal, and respectful for all people in Australia.
Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
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*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 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.