How family violence hurts communities
We acknowledge that for decades, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been activists against, and spoken out about, violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Some communities have also worked hard on this issue.
It is also important to note that violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers is perpetrated by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fathers. Intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of social categorisation such as race, culture, class and gender as they relate to an individual or group and can lead to oppression. Fathers who use violence may gain additional power and control, and the mother experiences greater vulnerability if he comes from a privileged group, and she from a group that has historically been discriminated against or oppressed. Consider the impact of intersectionality for a mother who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and as a father who may exploit her culture by using racism to further abuse and oppress her.
‘Aboriginal women are strong. They are survivors who have borne the brunt not only of all policies of colonisation enacted upon our people in this country, but also the ripple effects and transgenerational trauma for several decades. We have done so under extraordinary adversity yet we are still standing and we are still carrying on. And we are still amazing.’
Celeste Liddle— Keynote speech from ‘Putting Gender on the Agenda’.
The statistics of domestic and family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
According to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 35 times more likely to experience domestic and family violence than other women.
The Productivity Commission’s 2011 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised due to domestic and family violence assaults. They are 5 times more likely to be victims of homicide than other Australian women—and more than 55% of these homicides are the result of family violence.
Family violence is largely underreported. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are less likely to report being hurt by violence than other Australian women, and they face a range of additional barriers to reporting.
When it comes to children, a 2008 White Ribbon Foundation report stated that 42% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 12 to 20 reported seeing violence against their mother, compared with 23% of all children.
Family violence is a major contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being taken from their families, and they are 10 times more likely to be in care than other Australian children.
'Don’t forget our men and don’t stereotype them as abusers. Family violence is fundamentally an issue of gender equality. We need strong leadership from women, but we also need the support of Indigenous men if we are to make progress in stamping out violence. Indigenous men need to model appropriate behaviour, challenge violence and stand up against it, and support our women and nurture our children.’
Ending family violence and abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities—Key issues (2006), Australian Human Rights Commission.
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