AFLS welcomes announcement of standalone plan to address violence in Aboriginal communities, urges Federal Government to properly consider culture and history across different Aboriginal groups and adequately resource Aboriginal Controlled Organisations


Aboriginal Family Legal Services WA (AFLS), a key family violence service provider in the Pilbara, Kimberley, Mid-West Gascoyne and Goldfields regions, welcomes the announcement that Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to develop a targeted plan to address violence against women in Aboriginal communities.

AFLS has been a long-time advocate for genuine commitment from the State and Federal Governments to partner with Aboriginal communities to address violence against women and children, and recommended the establishment of a separate, dedicated National Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in its submission to the Department of Social Services on developing the next National Plan.

AFLS CEO Corina Martin said that family and domestic violence is experienced in a different context in Aboriginal communities and that Aboriginal people are the authorities on what service responses will work for them. “The social, cultural and political context in which violence occurs in Aboriginal communities is unique to Aboriginal people, as are the deep-rooted drivers and underlying factors that contribute to violence against Aboriginal women. This includes the ongoing impacts of colonisation, intergenerational trauma, socio-economic disadvantage, systemic racism, and discrimination.”

“Addressing violence in Aboriginal communities requires a proper commitment to paying attention to the unique experiences of Aboriginal women as victims of violence and to working with Aboriginal communities to respond to violence in a way that is appropriate for them.”

Ms. Martin also emphasised the importance of recognising differences between Aboriginal culture across regional areas and remote community groups. “The Federal Government must understand that Aboriginal culture varies from community to community, and that dealing with violence in one community may be an entirely different experience to dealing with violence in another. The standalone plan to end violence against Aboriginal women must respond to this reality and be built on an understanding of history and culture as being experienced differently for Aboriginal people generally, and across regional boundaries and Aboriginal communities.”

Trusting Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to deliver services for Aboriginal people was also raised by Ms. Martin as a critical issue for the standalone plan. “I am concerned that there has been a tendency across Australia, and in Western Australia in particular, for non-Aboriginal Controlled Organisations to receive funding to deliver services to Aboriginal people. The standalone plan must adequately resource Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations like AFLS to support Aboriginal communities to address violence against women and children.”

Ms. Martin commended Minister Ruston for listening to the voices of Indigenous leaders at the National Women’s Safety Summit and said that AFLS looks forward to seeing how the Federal Government listens to Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal organisations in the future, to achieve their shared goal of addressing violence against women and children.