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    Helping prevent family violence for a safer community.

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AFLS Media Statement 16.09.21 – Sly Grogging

Aboriginal Family Legal Services WA (ALFS), a key legal assistance provider in East and West Kimberley regions, has expressed serious concern over the announcement by the State Government today that it will introduce new regulations to combat the practice of ‘sly grogging’ this week.

AFLS CEO Corina Martin said that while it was positive to see the Government thinking about how to limit liquor supply in the Kimberley, where consumption is often a driver of family and domestic violence, the approach taken by the Government was not transparent and was discriminatory towards Aboriginal people in the region.
“Under these new regulations, WA Police will have the discretion to seize and dispose of illegal alcohol on the spot, with the purpose of stamping out sly grogging in regional and remote communities. The historical relationship between Aboriginal people and the police, which is characterised by mistrust and prejudice, does not tend towards a fair assessment of vehicles which will be stopped under these new regulations. In fact, the exemptions to these carriage limits which apply to tourists, pastoralists, station owners and operators of remote work sites, only reinforces the racist intent of this legislation.”

Ms. Martin said that contemporary police responses to family violence, which continue to be affected by an overarching history of poor police responses, including the historical role of police in child removals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody, set the tone for the application of the new regulations and police decision making about the purpose of the use of liquor.
“Today, poor police responses and practices contribute to stereotyping and often result in the misidentification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as offenders, rather than victims of crime. I am concerned that the new section of the Liquor Control Act will disproportionately affect Aboriginal people in the same way. Minister Whitby says it is up to police to use their good, common sense in making determinations as to whether a vehicle is carrying alcohol for the purposes of sly grogging, or if they’re going out on a camping or fishing trip. That common sense has only contributed to the disempowerment of and discrimination against Aboriginal people in the past.”

Ms. Martin expressed further concern over the lack of consultation on the legislative changes and said that the consultation which did occur was inadequate, given that it was with the main cause of the problem, the liquor industry. Failures to consult adequately and appropriately with the affected community would only have negative implications.
“There are real, critical problems in the Kimberley that require a joint response from community, service providers, and Government together. This top-down approach being enforced by the Government through the WA Police is discriminatory and will fail to improve the social and health outcomes of the community, when it is being thrown upon them,” Ms. Martin said.

Media Contact – Laney Gould, 9355 1502

MEDIA RELEASE (30.06.21): Alarming report on use of force against Aboriginal people in prisons across Western Australia   

A key stakeholder in the Pilbara, West Kimberley and Goldfields regions has expressed concerns about findings in the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services’ report on the use of force against prisoners in Western Australia.   

The Inspection Report, which was recently handed down in Parliament, revealed that force is used more often on Aboriginal prisoners, with the overrepresentation of prisoners in use of force incidents “apparent at almost every prison in Western Australia”.  

Aboriginal Family Legal Services WA, a specialist Family Violence organisation which provides legal assistance, preventative education and social supports for Aboriginal victims of family and domestic violence throughout remote and regional Western Australia, said that the findings of the report were problematic.  

Particularly concerning was the finding that although Aboriginal people made up on average only 39% of the prison population in Western Australia, they were involved in more than half of all reported use of force incidences (55%).  

AFLS CEO Corina Martin said that the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in use of force incidents was likely partly a result of undiagnosed cognitive impairments, misinterpreted as contempt of prison officers and misbehavior. “These are some of the state’s most vulnerable people, who have experienced a lifetime and trauma, likely have undiagnosed FASD, and who have been drawn into criminal activity due to circumstances outside of their control”.  

And, while there was an overall drop in the use of force against female prisoners, Aboriginal women remained overrepresented in use of force incidents in prisons across Western Australia. Since 2016, Aboriginal women have made up between 45 and 47 per cent of the female prisoner population, yet they have been involved in “upwards of 65 per cent of recorded use of force incidents involving women”. For AFLS, the finding that, just like the trend for Aboriginal prisoners generally, there was “no explanation” for the overrepresentation of Aboriginal women in use of force incidences, is troubling.  

Ms. Martin also queried the unclear policy and reporting practices which failed to ensure use of force was controlled effectively. “The report tells us that 80% of all incidents in WA prisons involved physical force between 2016 and 2020, yet only 20 times were prisoners recorded as having physical force used on them in the same period? The inherent failures in the reporting system are leaving our prisoners, who are real people, more vulnerable to excess use of force and reduced chances of positive rehabilitation into the community”.   

Ms. Martin urged the WA Government to review its practices in the use of force and ensure that Aboriginal prisoners do not continue to be overrepresented in use of force incidents in WA prisons.  

Media Contact – Laney Gould 9355 1502  

National Women’s Summit calls for dedicated National Safety Plan for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been crystal clear at the National Women’s Safety Summit: we need a standalone National action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. We call on the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to hand the reigns back to First Nations women and the life-saving services that we deliver  in our communities.

We were excluded from the National Women’s Summit, and only secured a seat at the table after a public campaign to have our voices heard. It is our firm view that any national plan that does not include the voices, experiences and expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is destined to fail.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were absolutely clear at the Women’s Summit: if we are serious about ending violence against First Nations women and children, we need a dedicated National Safety Plan, written for us and by us. The previous national plan has failed our women. Business as usual will not cut it. We urge the government to listen to the calls of frontline service providers, victim-survivors, advocates and academics to give the power back to First Nations women and organisations to make decisions about our own lives and safety.” 
 Wynetta Dewis
Co-Chair of the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum
We stand with Change the Record in calling on the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to hand the reigns back to First Nations women and the life-saving services that we deliver in our communities, and commit to a National Safety Plan FOR and BY First Nations women. 
Our Key Calls:

  1. Establish a National Plan to eliminate family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children
  2. Increase investment into early intervention and prevention and ensure First Nations women have equal access to support whether they live in the city, towns or bush.
  3. Increase investment into family violence prevention and legal services to match demand and geographical spread, and fund our peak body the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum
  4. End the threat of child removals and establish a nationally consistent, mandatory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children protection notification and referral system to keep families together
  5. Expand victim-survivor choice and control through expanded pathways for support and accountability beyond police and criminal courts, including referral to FVPLSs.
  6. Increase affordable housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children who are too often unable to leave dangerous situations due to a lack of housing
  7. At all stages in developing policy responses that affect First Nations women and children, prioritise the expertise and solutions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and services.
  8. Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s economic security by abolishing ParentsNext and other punitive programs that drive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially women, deeper into poverty
  9. Stop criminalising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and recognise that Family violence is both a cause and consequence of growing incarceration rates
  10. At all stages in developing policy responses that affect First Nations women and children, prioritise the expertise and solutions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and services.
Your donation can make a big difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children experiencing or at risk of family violence.

To donate, visit the webpages or directly contact via email below:

New South Wales

Binaal Billa Family Violence Prevention Legal Service www.binaalbilla.com.au
Many Rivers Family Violence Prevention Legal Service www.gurehlgam.com.au/mrfvpls/
Thiyama-li Family Violence Service Inc thiyamali.com.au
Warra-Warra Family Violence Prevention Legal Service  www.farwestclc.org.au

Northern Territory

Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit www.caaflu.com.au
North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service www.naafls.com.au
Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Domestic and Family Violence Service www.npywc.org.au/what-we-do/domestic-and-family-violence/

Queensland

Aboriginal Family Legal Service Southern Queensland tabatha.young@aflssq.org.au
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service www.qifvls.com.au

South Australia

Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation www.fvlsac.org.au

Victoria

Djirra http://givenow.com.au/fvpls

Western Australia

Aboriginal Family Legal Services WA https://www.afls.org.au/
Marninwarnitkura Family Violence Prevention Unit WA mwrc.com.au/pages/legal-services#
Southern Aboriginal Corporation Family Violence Prevention Legal Service www.sacorp.com.au/fvpls

Help stop the spread of COVID-19

We can’t see COVID-19 but it effects everybody.

We are still providing legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence in regional Western Australia amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But our procedures have changed to keep everyone healthy and safe.
From Monday 18 May our Doors will be open for face to face appointments.

Welcome

We support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of family and sexual violence through community education, early intervention and legal advocacy.

Services

We provide legal and support services for all Aboriginal people who have experienced family violence or sexual assault.

Family Law

We can assist people with their family law matters when there are children involved. We represent clients in the Family Court WA, and help clients work out parenting agreements. We focus on what is best for the children.

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Child Protection

We assist people dealing with the Department of Child Protection and Family Support in childcare and protection matters. We can help you to talk to the Department about children remaining safely in your care.

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Criminal Injury Compensation

Eligibility advice for criminal injuries compensation, including for injuries, medical expenses and lost income. We assist with applications, and helping to obtain documents such as medical reports.

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Family Violence Restraining Orders

We help people who have been hurt by partners or family members. We can assist in applications for Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs) and will apply to the Court for an interim restraining order.

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Non-Legal Support

We provide non-legal support and case management in the form of community education and engagement, crisis intervention and client referrals. We can advocate for clients, and help in safety planning for families.

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Social Support

Our social workers provide culturally-safe and trauma-informed approaches. They help clients through the demands of their legal process, develop safety strategies, and build social and emotional wellbeing.

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“Thank you AFLS for your presentation to our nursing team. We continue to use your valuable resources and look forward to working with you again.”

ROBYN MACGREGORGOLDFIELDS MENTAL HEALTH INPATIENT SERVICE
Membership

Stronger Together

We encourage all Aboriginal people concerned about Family Violence to join our organisation. Our members are drawn from the six regions in which we operate, and also include Perth. You need to be at least 18 years of age to become a member.

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Campaign

Ochre Ribbon

Violence within Aboriginal communities against women, children and men has increased to alarming levels. The Ochre Ribbon Campaign highlights the need to stop this violence, and works to strengthen advances in prevention initiatives from other agencies and campaigns.

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