An Indigenous researcher is working on highlighting an overwhelming lack of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children experiencing violence.

Human rights lawyer and researcher Dr Hannah McGlade is working on a series of complaints to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The Seven Sisters communiques puts forward the cases of seven women who have disappeared, been murdered or wrongfully incarcerated over the past three decades.

Speaking to NIRS News, Dr McGlade says the first case she is working on is that of Jody Gore from Kununurra who was sentenced to 12 years in prison after fatally stabbing her abusive partner in self defense.

“She was released by the Attorney-General after a media campaign showing what had wrongfully happened to Jody, that she was not a person who should have been convicted, the attorney-general was concerned by the evidence.

However she went back to her community in Kununurra and she hasn’t been compensated or anything for those four years she was imprisoned in very harsh conditions.

The other families unfortunately lost their loved ones from murder and violence.

And what we want to highlight is that there’s a lack of justice overwhelmingly for Aboriginal women who face an epidemic of violence, such that we describe it as Indigenous femicide.”

Researching violence against women and children remains underfunded

Dr McGlade says there is a lack of funding for research into violence against Indigenous women and children, which shows an ongoing neglect and silencing of Indigenous women.

She says over the years she has seen that there hasn’t been support for Indigenous women researching these issues.

“we have seen a growth of research investment into Aboriginal health, this (violence against women) is a major issue for the health of Aboriginal women, violence against women is one of the key causes of Aboriginal women’s preventable deaths.

But we are not seeing that investment, and I think that’s about neglect, it’s about the silencing of Indigenous women’s leadership as well, and really a devaluing of Indigenous women’s lives.”

Associate Professor and Yuin woman Dr Marlene Longbottom from James Cook University has also been researching the issue and agrees that we need to boost the number of Indigenous women researching violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“this type of research, is not just something you can just go into a community with a clipboard and start asking questions.

Its nuanced, its complex, and you need to have your head around what those complexities are, but you also need to be aware of of the safety aspect and when people do come forward to share their stories, there could be legal issues that are still going and it could also place the women and children at risk.”

Dr Longbottom also says research programs, as with domestic and family violence programs, need to operate at a local level because solutions depend of the community’s needs.

“it’s more than just ‘here’s some research money or here’s some program money, go do what you gota do’,

If it’s not place based and if it’s not locally culturally contextualised, there will be difficulties in people participating because what might be the focus of south eastern corner of Queensland, would most definitely be different for western Queensland and far north.”

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