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Unique experiences of Aboriginal people

Strong Aboriginal communities and culture

Aboriginal communities in Victoria have consistently led the way in the development of strategic priorities and actions to prevent family violence. This is demonstrated through strong whole-of-community engagement initiatives that bring together women, men, children and Elders to collectively break the cycles of violence.

Victorian Aboriginal communities are driving a range of prevention programs aimed at strengthening the factors that protect against family violence. Initiatives include:

  • respectful relationships programs focused on Aboriginal young people and men
  • targeted and local campaigns to build strong families and communities
  • initiatives to strengthen the connection of Aboriginal children, young people, women and men to community and culture
  • self-determination models in individual and institutional contexts to strengthen Aboriginal community-led prevention efforts.

Family violence is not and has never been a part of Aboriginal culture. Rather, the impact of white settlement, colonisation and the violent dispossession of land, culture and children has displaced traditional Aboriginal roles and resulted in an accumulation of trauma across generations.

The cumulative effects of individual, institutional and societal violence and racism over the generations have contributed to the pervasiveness of family violence and the severity of its impact on Aboriginal people today.

A disproportionate impact

Family violence is perpetrated against Aboriginal people by both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people. It is experienced within intimate relationships, families, extended families, kinship networks and communities.

Violence against Aboriginal people encompasses a wide range of abuses and can include physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse as well as inter- and intra-group violence and lateral violence. Spiritual and cultural violence is also perpetrated against Aboriginal women and men when non-Aboriginal partners or family members exclude or isolate them from their culture or community.

Violence against Aboriginal people disproportionately impacts women and their children, who undoubtedly experience violence at much higher rates than other Victorians. Aboriginal women and children are one of the groups at highest risk of family violence in Victoria, regardless of whether they live in rural, regional or urban areas.

 

Given the disproportionate levels of violence against Aboriginal women by men, there can be little doubt that gender inequality and discrimination play a critical role in the perpetration of this violence. This is further compounded by the historical oppression of Aboriginal women as a result of colonisation, the Stolen Generations and the loss of land and culture.

A higher proportion of Aboriginal people in Victoria have been directly affected by the Stolen Generations than any other state or territory. The grief and trauma resulting from child removal policies are profound, and should not be understated in any analysis of the drivers of family violence for Aboriginal people. Past experiences of family violence and trauma are perpetuated today, as Aboriginal children continue to be removed from families at disproportionately high rates as a result of exposure to violence.

Building on existing efforts

The Victorian Government is committed to Aboriginal self-determination and a community-led response to violence against Aboriginal people. Prevention initiatives focused on Aboriginal communities will be developed in partnership with Aboriginal people and reinforce positive capacity-building approaches with Aboriginal communities.

This strategy builds on existing efforts to address family violence against Aboriginal people in Victoria, including: