You are not the problem. You are the solution. Aboriginal women’s lives matter.
I have worked in this space, leading Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Victoria, for 14 years and over that time I have seen the conversation start to shift. Rosie Batty, the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the advent of ANROWS and Our Watch are all contributing to greater visibility of the problem of family violence in our community. But we must see this window of visibility grow to include Aboriginal women and children.
As an Aboriginal woman working in this space, I take a stand against violence every day. Every day I hear the stories of Aboriginal women’s resilience in the face of violence. I hear stories of pain; of our women being failed not only by the people who profess to love them, but by the systems supposed to protect them. But, more and more through our work, I get to hear stories of strength, of healing and of solidarity.
Aboriginal organisations like ours have been working tirelessly for decades at the forefront of family violence prevention and response. And now, at long last, the climate is ripe for change. Aboriginal communities are coming together. Aboriginal leaders are speaking up. But we need to be heard. We need everyone to stand firm against family violence and to recognise the crucial role that Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations play in addressing family violence impacting our communities.
Change starts with... All of us. Family violence is everyone’s business. Pretending it doesn’t exist or that your attitudes don’t hold sway is not an option. Everyone can contribute to change. Be that through supporting a sister, friend, colleague or neighbour who has been impacted by violence; making a donation to a family violence support service; modelling respectful relationships to your children; or calling out disrespectful talk about women at your sports club. Everyone has a role to play.
I think things will change if... Decision makers listen to the voices of Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women have the solutions to family violence. We must be supported and resourced to lead action for change for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We are not the problem. We are the solution.
I want to see change because... I want my nieces to grow up in a world where, as Aboriginal women, they are not 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence. I want to turn the tide of Aboriginal children being taken from their families and robbed of their culture because of family violence. I want to stem the flow of Aboriginal women into prison. Our women are now the fastest growing prison population in Victoria and in the nation - a fact that research shows is intrinsically linked with experiencing family violence. I want all our women and children to live in a community where they are valued, safe and equal.