Djirra, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation with specialist expertise in family violence, is about to officially launch two new office locations in Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley as part of its state-wide expansion.
The offices will house Djirra’s Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service program (AFVLS), teams of lawyers and paralegal support workers who will provide wraparound, culturally safe legal and non-legal support for local Aboriginal people experiencing family violence or sexual assault or have in the past – predominantly women and their children.
With its head office based in Abbotsford (Melbourne Metro), Djirra now counts seven regional offices across Victoria from Bairnsdale to Warnambool, Ballarat, Mildura and Echuca.
“Expanding our services to two new areas means we can support more Aboriginal women in more places across Victoria,” said Antoinette Braybrook, CEO at Djirra. “No Aboriginal women should be disadvantaged or denied access to specialist, holistic and culturally safe support just because of her where she lives.”
Djirra has been working on the ground to support Aboriginal victim survivors of family violence for over 16 years. In Victoria, Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to experience family violence than non-Aboriginal women and 25 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of that violence.
Aboriginal women are also the fastest growing prison population, and nearly all Aboriginal women behind bars are survivors of violence themselves and primary care givers of children. At the new office in Bendigo, the Djirra team looks forward to providing culturally safe legal and non-legal support for Aboriginal women in the community as well as women inside or recently released from Tarrengower prison.
The recent Gippsland Legal Assistance Forum report found that the Latrobe local government area has some of the highest rates of family violence in the state. The report highlighted that limited access to family violence services is a key factor contributing to high rates of homelessness and child protection intervention, with Aboriginal women and their children disproportionately impacted. Djirra’s new Latrobe Valley office is an important step towards increasing access to culturally safe and specialist support for Aboriginal victim survivors in the region.
“Djirra is much more than a family violence and legal service. Each Aboriginal woman who walks through our doors has her own unique experiences and needs. Djirra walks alongside
our women every step of the way, offering the tools and knowledge to know when support is needed and how she can access it, as well as opportunities to connect with other Aboriginal women in a culturally safe space.”
“Sharing stories, finding solutions are not just words,” continued Ms Braybrook. “Those principles are at the foundation of everything Djirra does – for Aboriginal women, by Aboriginal women.”
Since the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria, Djirra received unprecedented support and investment, which has allowed for much-needed expansion of its service and outreach.
Djirra’s vision is to continue to grow as the specialist service for Aboriginal victim survivors of family violence, working towards a future where Aboriginal women and their children are living in safety – free from violence and strong in culture and identity.
“Strong connections to the community and local organisations are pivotal to Djirra’s work. It is in that spirit that we are organising the official office openings,” concluded Ms Braybrook. “We look forward to meeting with everyone in Bendigo and Latrobe Valley communities and working closely with existing services!”