Indigenous Women Need Their Voices Heard In Scott Morrison’s New Domestic Violence Plan

"We hold the solutions, and it is time that governments work with us to implement them".

Domestic Violence Indigenous

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Indigenous women are calling for a separate domestic violence action plan as part of the national Women’s Safety Summit this week to better address safety concerns.

“First Nations people have been calling for a specific, dedicated approach to the unique issues our women and girls face for a very long time,” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, June Oscar said.

Family violence happens at higher rates for Indigenous Australians, as a “cause and effect of social disadvantage and intergenerational trauma,” according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The mob-led, localised response would finally address holes in current safety plans that fail to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, or properly address unique circumstances and dynamics.

Professor Marcia Langton pressed for self-determination as a vital solution on Monday. “Nobody listens to us. They talk over the top of us, and tell us what we’re going to have in our communities”. “If you go to a typical country town, what you’ll see is the main services are all run by white people, and all the Aboriginal leaders are marginalised. They not even invited to the table.”

The shortcomings of homogenising gendered violence responses was brought to light back in May, when debate was ignited over criminalising coercive control — a move that would unfairly penalise and punish Indigenous women.

“There has never been a national framework to respond to the inequality experienced by First Nations women and girls. We are always afterthoughts or add-ons, and we need to move away from this type of response where our voices are not being included, where we are not leading these processes”, Oscar said.

The Summit, which ends today, will produce a 10-year strategy at the end of the year. In a speech on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said First Nations community leaders “should rightfully determine the best way to close the gap” and meet the national goal of halving family and domestic violence by 2031.

“We need First Nations gender justice and equality to be considered and embedded in government policy at all levels, to support and enable women to lead, participate, and drive meaningful change,” Oscar said. “We hold the solutions, and it is time that governments work with us to implement them”.

Photo Credit: Jennetta Quinn-Bates