Today marks the end of Ochre Ribbon Week, a campaign calling for action to end domestic and family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.
The Indigenous-led campaign runs annually from 12 to 19 February and raises awareness of the lasting and complex impacts violence can have on Indigenous families.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience disproportionally high levels of violence compared to non-Indigenous women, and violence is often more severe in its impact on families:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised from family violence than non-Indigenous Australians,
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 3.4 times more likely to experience sexual assault, and
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 11 times more likely to die due to assault.
Significant drivers of violence experienced by First Nations women include discrimination, racism and intergenerational trauma. Domestic and family violence is not just perpetrated by Indigenous men but by people of many cultural backgrounds.
The Aboriginal Family Legal Service in Western Australia is dedicated to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of family and domestic violence and sexual assault to end the cycle of violence and improve life outcomes.
CEO of AFLS, Corina Martin said dealing with family violence is quite a long and complex process and hopes raising awareness will increase financial support from state and federal governments to Indigenous-led early intervention and prevention services.
The Mulgyin Jaru/Kitja and Gooniyandi woman said giving a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities is of primary importance.
“Children are being taken away from families as a result of family violence, they don’t have a voice anywhere.”
“We have outreach services to different regions and we work to try and find solutions within their communities,” in “Western Australia we are trying to get family-led dispute resolution services going.”
“We also use interpreters a lot which is something people don’t utilise enough, language is so important and particularly for people who English is not their first language. You might say a word which means something to you but to me it may mean something different – so that’s really, really important.”
If you are experiencing family or domestic violence, please contact:
- National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence counselling service – 1800 RESPECT
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
- Relationships Australia – 1300 364 277
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
Visit respect.gov.au for more information and to download free resources.