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Lateral violence

Lateral violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

It is critical to understand the concept of, and damage caused by, lateral violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Lateral violence (also known as horizontal violence or intra-racial conflict) as a product of a complex mix of historical, cultural and social dynamics that results in a spectrum of behaviours that include:

  • gossiping
  • jealousy
  • bullying
  • shaming
  • social exclusion
  • family feuding
  • organisational conflict
  • physical violence.

(Source: Australian Human Rights Commission Social Justice Report (2011, p. 44))

Refer to Lateral violence in the Safe care and connection practice kit.

Children's experiences

Children’s experiences of lateral violence in their communities may normalise violence and put children at risk of being emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically hurt. Learn more about how a child may experience family violence in general in Part 2 of this practice kit. 


'The organised, harmful behaviours that we do to each other collectively as part of an oppressed group: within our families; within our organisations and; within our communities. When we are consistently oppressed we live with great fear and great anger and we often turn on those who are closest to us.'

Frankland, R & Lewis, P cited in Australian Human Rights Commission (2011).

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