Indigenous insights and experiences



Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants


  • Parliamentarians should link arms and send the message from Commonwealth Parliament: No more to family violence.

  • All initiatives and responses must be Indigenous led and culturally appropriate.

  • Each response needs to be tailored to each community and focused on collaboration.

  • The initiatives need to be grassroots and community led.

  • The role of men needs to be re-established to avoid them feeling disempowered and without a purpose in the community.

  • Place-based legal and wrap around services in rural and remote areas should be provided.

  • Police should work more closely with traditional owners.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • The responses and initiatives need to be built from an Indigenous worldview.

  • Alcohol-fuelled violence and foetal alcohol spectrum disorders need to be addressed.

  • The introduction of targeted, community-driven Alcohol Management Plans that are adequately resourced is one strategy that has been found to be effective in reducing alcohol-related injuries.

  • It is important to identify leaders in communities and support them to develop locally appropriate responses that are independent of government and political cycles.

  • Greater training should be provided for police officers in the dynamics of domestic violence.

  • A more consistent, yet locally flexible, approach to the delivery of services is needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children experiencing violence.









Discussion paper authored by the Commonwealth (in consultation with the Northern Territory) in preparation for COAG National Summit



Background


The incidence of family violence in Indigenous communities is disproportionately higher than in non-Indigenous communities. The particularly high rates of family violence experienced by Indigenous people stem from a number of interrelated factors, including cultural loss and disruption caused by colonisation and dispossession, the removal of Indigenous children from their families, inter-generational trauma and systemic disadvantage and discrimination. Experiences of childhood abuse and neglect have resulted in entrenched generational trauma manifested in a variety of forms, including violence, lateral violence, alcohol and drug misuse and misuse of cultural authority.


Some statistics on the prevalence of violence amongst Indigenous people include:





o the death rate from homicide for Indigenous people is 8.5 times the rate for non-Indigenous people, and in remote and very remote areas this is 3.5 times the rate of Indigenous homicide in major cities[4]


o 56% of the homicides in the NT are a result of family violence





Feedback from recent consultations on the Third Action Plan and from key Indigenous stakeholder groups has been clear that Indigenous women want the violence to stop. They want to see intensive, trauma-informed services designed for families with complex needs and delivered in an appropriate cultural context. Delivery of services by Indigenous community controlled organisations is central to achieve this.


This roundtable will focus on how federal and state governments can best respond to and reduce the incidence of domestic and family violence in Indigenous communities. The discussion will also include strategies to develop solutions that both ensure the safety of victims, while also changing perpetrator behaviour.


Issues


The shortcomings of a justice system response to Indigenous family violence have been well‑documented, but a number of key issues remain unaddressed. For example, the recent Northern Territory Coroner’s Report Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024 highlighted:


  • 60% of all assaults are committed despite a Domestic Violence Order being in place against the perpetrator[6]
  • 60% of all assaults in the NT are a result of family violence[7]
  • 72% of these assaults are on Indigenous women[8]
  • 94% of all court orders in breach are Domestic Violence Orders.[9]



This suggests the justice system has a limited capacity to respond to Indigenous victims and protect them from further harm as well as reduce the propensity of Indigenous perpetrators to engage in domestic violence. It is also the case that the criminal justice response alone is insufficient and not culturally-informed to address the needs of Indigenous victims of family violence. Victims often get the blame from family and the Aboriginal community for what happens to their partners, particularly if they go to prison. For many victims there is pressure from the husband’s family for the victim to withdraw the complaint and also the victim’s own family may seek to dissuade her.


A quantum shift is required to develop alternative approaches to responding to, and protecting, Indigenous women and their children from family violence. Researchers, Indigenous advocates and academics report that the needs of Indigenous people affected by family violence are not well met through general approaches and service models. Wrap‑around, whole of family responses that protect women and their children and are also inclusive of men are required. An approach is required that acknowledges the impacts of past policies, is based on empowering individuals, communities and strengthening families, and where traditional approaches to healing and Indigenous perspectives are valued and respected.


Given the complex causes of violence in Indigenous communities, effective solutions will only be found through establishment of strong partnerships between Indigenous communities and organisations and governments. Responses need to be intensive, place-based and targeted to individual drivers of violence, as well as recognise the intersectional dimension of violence against Indigenous women and acknowledge Indigenous peoples’ responsibilities to their families, communities and culture.



[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014, Indigenous Child Safety, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129547839

[3] Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2014, Fast Facts – Indigenous family violence,: http://media.aomx.com/anrows.org.au/s3fs-public/Fast-Facts---Indigenous-family-violence.pdf

[4] Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2014, Fast Facts – Indigenous family violence,: http://media.aomx.com/anrows.org.au/s3fs-public/Fast-Facts---Indigenous-family-violence.pdf

[5]Australian Institute of Criminology 2004,Women's experiences of male violence: findings from the Australian component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS), http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/rpp/56/rpp056.pdf

[6]Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[7] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[8] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[9] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf



Discussion questions


  • How can communities be supported to develop solutions to violence that will both ensure the safety of victims and change perpetrator behaviour?
  • How can governments best support the resourcing and development of programs that alleviate, respond to and reduce the incidence of violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children?




Contribute to the online roundtable discussion about domestic violence in Indigenous communities


We want to hear your thoughts about the challenges Indigenous people face addressing domestic and family violence.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.





Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants


  • Parliamentarians should link arms and send the message from Commonwealth Parliament: No more to family violence.

  • All initiatives and responses must be Indigenous led and culturally appropriate.

  • Each response needs to be tailored to each community and focused on collaboration.

  • The initiatives need to be grassroots and community led.

  • The role of men needs to be re-established to avoid them feeling disempowered and without a purpose in the community.

  • Place-based legal and wrap around services in rural and remote areas should be provided.

  • Police should work more closely with traditional owners.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • The responses and initiatives need to be built from an Indigenous worldview.

  • Alcohol-fuelled violence and foetal alcohol spectrum disorders need to be addressed.

  • The introduction of targeted, community-driven Alcohol Management Plans that are adequately resourced is one strategy that has been found to be effective in reducing alcohol-related injuries.

  • It is important to identify leaders in communities and support them to develop locally appropriate responses that are independent of government and political cycles.

  • Greater training should be provided for police officers in the dynamics of domestic violence.

  • A more consistent, yet locally flexible, approach to the delivery of services is needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children experiencing violence.









Discussion paper authored by the Commonwealth (in consultation with the Northern Territory) in preparation for COAG National Summit



Background


The incidence of family violence in Indigenous communities is disproportionately higher than in non-Indigenous communities. The particularly high rates of family violence experienced by Indigenous people stem from a number of interrelated factors, including cultural loss and disruption caused by colonisation and dispossession, the removal of Indigenous children from their families, inter-generational trauma and systemic disadvantage and discrimination. Experiences of childhood abuse and neglect have resulted in entrenched generational trauma manifested in a variety of forms, including violence, lateral violence, alcohol and drug misuse and misuse of cultural authority.


Some statistics on the prevalence of violence amongst Indigenous people include:





o the death rate from homicide for Indigenous people is 8.5 times the rate for non-Indigenous people, and in remote and very remote areas this is 3.5 times the rate of Indigenous homicide in major cities[4]


o 56% of the homicides in the NT are a result of family violence





Feedback from recent consultations on the Third Action Plan and from key Indigenous stakeholder groups has been clear that Indigenous women want the violence to stop. They want to see intensive, trauma-informed services designed for families with complex needs and delivered in an appropriate cultural context. Delivery of services by Indigenous community controlled organisations is central to achieve this.


This roundtable will focus on how federal and state governments can best respond to and reduce the incidence of domestic and family violence in Indigenous communities. The discussion will also include strategies to develop solutions that both ensure the safety of victims, while also changing perpetrator behaviour.


Issues


The shortcomings of a justice system response to Indigenous family violence have been well‑documented, but a number of key issues remain unaddressed. For example, the recent Northern Territory Coroner’s Report Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024 highlighted:


  • 60% of all assaults are committed despite a Domestic Violence Order being in place against the perpetrator[6]
  • 60% of all assaults in the NT are a result of family violence[7]
  • 72% of these assaults are on Indigenous women[8]
  • 94% of all court orders in breach are Domestic Violence Orders.[9]



This suggests the justice system has a limited capacity to respond to Indigenous victims and protect them from further harm as well as reduce the propensity of Indigenous perpetrators to engage in domestic violence. It is also the case that the criminal justice response alone is insufficient and not culturally-informed to address the needs of Indigenous victims of family violence. Victims often get the blame from family and the Aboriginal community for what happens to their partners, particularly if they go to prison. For many victims there is pressure from the husband’s family for the victim to withdraw the complaint and also the victim’s own family may seek to dissuade her.


A quantum shift is required to develop alternative approaches to responding to, and protecting, Indigenous women and their children from family violence. Researchers, Indigenous advocates and academics report that the needs of Indigenous people affected by family violence are not well met through general approaches and service models. Wrap‑around, whole of family responses that protect women and their children and are also inclusive of men are required. An approach is required that acknowledges the impacts of past policies, is based on empowering individuals, communities and strengthening families, and where traditional approaches to healing and Indigenous perspectives are valued and respected.


Given the complex causes of violence in Indigenous communities, effective solutions will only be found through establishment of strong partnerships between Indigenous communities and organisations and governments. Responses need to be intensive, place-based and targeted to individual drivers of violence, as well as recognise the intersectional dimension of violence against Indigenous women and acknowledge Indigenous peoples’ responsibilities to their families, communities and culture.



[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014, Indigenous Child Safety, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129547839

[3] Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2014, Fast Facts – Indigenous family violence,: http://media.aomx.com/anrows.org.au/s3fs-public/Fast-Facts---Indigenous-family-violence.pdf

[4] Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2014, Fast Facts – Indigenous family violence,: http://media.aomx.com/anrows.org.au/s3fs-public/Fast-Facts---Indigenous-family-violence.pdf

[5]Australian Institute of Criminology 2004,Women's experiences of male violence: findings from the Australian component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS), http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/rpp/56/rpp056.pdf

[6]Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[7] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[8] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf

[9] Northern Territory Coroner’s Office 2016, Inquest into the deaths of Wendy Murphy and Natalie McCormack (2016) NTLC 024, https://justice.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/373207/A00172015-Natalie-McCormack.pdf



Discussion questions


  • How can communities be supported to develop solutions to violence that will both ensure the safety of victims and change perpetrator behaviour?
  • How can governments best support the resourcing and development of programs that alleviate, respond to and reduce the incidence of violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children?




Contribute to the online roundtable discussion about domestic violence in Indigenous communities


We want to hear your thoughts about the challenges Indigenous people face addressing domestic and family violence.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.



  • Share your views

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

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