Antoinette Braybrook, CEO Djirra has told the United Nations Human Rights Council that family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a national crisis in Australia.
“Australia holds itself out as a diverse and thriving country committed to human rights and equality, but when it comes to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women we have a national emergency”, Ms Braybrook said.
“Our women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence and 10 times more likely to die from violent assault than other women. Ninety percent of violence against our women goes unreported. When our women reach out for help, they are too often met with racism and systemic violence”.
Ms Braybrook outlined a number of urgent actions that Australian governments must take.
She called for a dedicated National Action Plan and long term investment in specialist services. In particular, increased funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services, which have had no funding increase or CPI since 2013-14.
“Every woman, every mother and her children must have access to culturally safe services for their safety. I urge our governments to act on our calls for specific targets addressing the high rates of violence against our women. Australian governments must act now before more women’s lives are lost and families destroyed”.
The National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum have been advocating for a separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Action Plan for family violence and a stand-alone target for family violence for a number of years, including during the 2019 Federal Election campaign.
Ms Braybrook also made a joint statement with the Human Rights Law Centre regarding the high removal rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, with family violence being a key driver.
Ms Braybrook called on the Australian Government to invest in culturally safe specialist family violence services that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled, and for a mandatory notification scheme where specialist family violence services are notified as soon as a child comes in contact with child protection agencies.
“There must be urgent action now to stop another generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being taken, lost, and their culture stolen. Our children must be given every chance to thrive with their families strong in culture and identity.”
Media contacts: Djirra (Geneva) – Meriki Onus: +61 499 220 591 Djirra (Melbourne) – Amanda Bresnan: +61 448 060 765