Latest News


Job opportunities at Djirra

Djirra is currently recruiting for the current positions: Paralegal Support Worker (FT or PT, maternity leave replacement) – Bairnsdale; Managing …

Pre-Employment workshops at KWP

Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place is now offering free Pre-Employment Workshops to assist women all the way from resume writing to …

Ochre Ribbon Week 2019

Ochre Ribbon Week occurs annually between 12th – 19th February. The Ochre Ribbon Campaign is an initiative supported by the …

Our Media Releases

With Human Rights Law Centre and National FVPLS Forum    This week the United Nations heard a scathing statement about …

Antoinette Braybrook, CEO Djirra has told the United Nations Human Rights Council that family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait …

With Human Rights Law Centre and National FVPLS Forum Overnight the United Nations Human Rights Council heard of the alarming …

Yesterday in Melbourne, Djirra has held the inaugural gathering of the Djirra Keepers hosted by Antoinette Braybrook, CEO, and supported by the senior Aboriginal women of Djirra.

“Djirra Keepers celebrates the role of the special Aboriginal women who have been an important part of Djirra’s journey and recognises their ongoing involvement into the future”, Ms Braybrook said.

“This gathering of twenty Aboriginal women marks a significant point in Djirra’s journey. The women who were here yesterday come from a range of ages, experiences and different parts of Victoria, and have all played a part in what Djirra has become and in promoting and advocating the interests of Aboriginal women”.

Djirra is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation with specialist expertise in family violence. Djirra has been working on the ground to support Aboriginal victims and survivors of family violence for over 16 years.

“Djirra’s focus is strengths based with a strong cultural focus. Everything we do is by Aboriginal women and for Aboriginal women – Aboriginal women’s business. This is what we acknowledged yesterday. It is a gathering that has come together to say that Djirra will support women and we want the women who have been a part of our journey to be with us”, Ms Braybrook said.

“All the women who were here yesterday are respected and influential women in their own right. Djirra wants to respect, acknowledge and value all their contributions and say the Djirra Keepers will always be a part of what we do”.

The Djirra Keepers will be formally announced and introduced at Djirra’s NAIDOC event on 23 July.

Antoinette Braybrook, CEO Djirra, welcomed the Victorian Government for providing ongoing funding for a vital service which supports Aboriginal women in Victoria who are survivors of family violence and works to prevent family violence.

“I am extremely pleased to see Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place given ongoing funding in today’s budget. The Victorian Government have provided unprecedented investment in Djirra since the Royal Commission,” Ms Braybrook said.

“Djirra’s approach is holistic – we work at the frontline and design and deliver early intervention and prevention programs with a strong focus on building Aboriginal women’s resilience. Koori Women’s Place creates access and opportunities for Aboriginal women and mothers and their children”.

Djirra is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation that specialises in family violence. Djirra has been working on the ground with Aboriginal women, or mums and especially those escaping of family violence for over 16 years.

“Our focus is strengths based with a strong cultural focus. Everything we do is by Aboriginal women and for Aboriginal women – Aboriginal women’s business, our cultural way. Our Koori Women’s Place is a place where all Aboriginal women feel safe, connect with other Aboriginal women, share similar circumstances and are never judged, only supported”.

“We hope to see future Victorian Budgets provide more funding for specialist organisations like Djirra and its Koori Women’s Place so we can expand our successful and culturally safe programs into others parts of the state. This will build Aboriginal women’s resilience, address the high rates of violence and increasing incarceration and child removal rates against our women, and ensure our women and children are together safe,” Ms Braybrook said.

“Investing in services in the community and not those which lead to a punitive approach must be a priority of government. Aboriginal women, our mums must have access to intensive, holistic case management support to escape violence and keep their children, and Djirra is best placed to do this”.

“Djirra and its holistic approach and the investment for our Koori Women’s Place is one step forward to providing the much needed front-end investment to keep Aboriginal women, or mums, our kids together in their homes and in their communities”.

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!”

Djirra calls on all levels of government to take urgent and dedicated action to prevent Aboriginal women entering prison, in response to the report released by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion on Wednesday into the implementation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations.

“The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was silent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” said Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of Djirra and National Convenor of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

“This rendered us invisible to decision makers, law makers and policy makers. Aboriginal women’s experiences continue to be overlooked in this recent report.”

Djirra stands with Change the Record and the National FVPLS Forum in questioning the report’s claim that the majority of recommendations from the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (‘RCIADIC’) have been implemented. The review, undertaken by Deloitte, was limited to whether actions had been taken to respond to each recommendation, not whether the actions had been appropriate or successful.

“How can you claim that we’re making progress with the majority of recommendations when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are now the fastest growing prison population in the country?” demanded Ms. Braybrook.

“We can’t talk about the over-incarceration of Aboriginal women without talking about the disproportionate levels of family violence and criminalisation that our women experience.”

The imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has skyrocketed nearly 150% since 1991. The rate of Aboriginal women’s imprisonment has increased by more than double that of Aboriginal men and Aboriginal women are locked up at 21 times the rate of non-Aboriginal women.

Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence than other women. Almost ninety percent of women in prison are victims of family violence or sexual assault and eighty percent of Aboriginal women behind bars are mothers.

“The women we work with tell us stories of being forced to commit a crime by their perpetrator, or self-medicating due to trauma and then ending up in prison for drug or poverty-related crimes. Many of our women leave prison and are forced to return to their abuser due to poverty and homelessness,” said Ms Braybrook.

“Many Aboriginal women have their kids removed while they are in prison, even if only a short period of time. The over-incarceration of our women destroys Aboriginal families and communities.”

The Deloitte report also finds that the least action has been taken to respond to RCIADIC recommendations that relate to non-custodial approaches and self-determination.

“This comes as no surprise,” said Ms Braybrook. “Governments want quick fixes. We know that breaking the cycle requires significant long term investment into our communities, our organisations and our programs, like Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place.”

Djirra’s Koori Women’s Place provides culturally safe, specialist and wraparound support to help prevent Aboriginal women from entering prison, as well as post-release case-management support to link in women exiting prison with much-needed services like housing.

“The numbers of Aboriginal women in Victorian prisons are still low enough that we can turn this around. Aboriginal women already hold many of the solutions – our voices must be front and centre. Work with us towards a future where no Aboriginal woman is in prison.”

Media contact: Em Castle for Antoinette Braybrook, CEO, Djirra, 0499 490 407 or ecastle@djirra.org.au

 Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @DjirraVIC and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA

 

Djirra is a specialized Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation with expertise in family violence. For more than 16 years, Djirra has been supporting Aboriginal victim/survivors of family violence and sexual assault across Victoria. Djirra provides wraparound and culturally safe legal and non-legal support for Aboriginal women in prison, as well as ongoing case-management for women exiting prison. Djirra also provides early intervention and prevention for Aboriginal women inside and outside prison that build resilience, identity and cultural strength to reduce vulnerability to violence.

 

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is pleased to provide additional funding to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the child protection system more easily access culturally safe and appropriate legal services.

Three-year funding agreements have been signed with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and Djirra to enable them to employ and support additional child protection lawyers in regional Victoria.

‘We know Aboriginal families are grossly over-represented in Victoria’s child protection system, and families in regional areas can face extra hardship in finding timely legal representation,’ VLA Executive Director of Family, Youth and Children’s Law, Nicole Rich said.

‘Helping VALS and Djirra to provide additional child protection services means more children and families will have access to representation that is tailored to their needs and focused on maintaining cultural and kinship connections.’

VLA will provide $275,000 plus indexation to each organisation each year for three years, as part of our commitment to improving child protection legal aid services.

‘These funding agreements fulfil one of the actions identified by our 2017 review into child protection legal aid services,’ Ms Rich said.

Djirra will use the funds to expand its child protection work in Morwell, Bendigo, Ballarat and Horsham, and Echuca and Shepparton.

‘Family violence is the single, biggest driver of the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. Aboriginal mothers have a right to culturally safe and specialist support and early access to services like Djirra is key to supporting our women to keep their children safe and strong in culture,’ CEO of Djirra, Antoinette Braybrook said.

‘Djirra welcomes this support from VLA. It will strengthen our crucial work in new regions across Victoria to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and hold the system to account for the protection of the rights of our children, families and communities.’

VALS will use its funding to employ and support two lawyers in Morwell and Mildura, ensuring vulnerable families are empowered to participate in legal proceedings and are part of the decision-making process.
‘It is essential in child protection matters that families are provided with consistent legal representation to ensure that our families do not move down a path of disconnected care and separation from their community and culture,’ Nerita Waight, Acting Chief Executive Officer of VALS said.

‘The existing cycle of loss, trauma, intermittent incarceration and disadvantage can only be halted by the provision of therapeutic legal services that aim to address not only the legal issue but also the underlying issues that have placed these families in a vulnerable position,’ Ms Waight said.

Alongside this funding to support VALS and Djirra to increase their child protection work, VLA is taking a number of other steps to improve services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

A pilot non-legal advocacy service for families with child protection involvement is beginning operations in Greater Bendigo and the Darebin and Moreland areas of Melbourne in October.

The Independent Family Advocacy and Support service (IFAS) will focus on helping Aboriginal families, and parents with an intellectual disability, to better understand and navigate the child protection system, get the help they need, and avoid matters proceeding to court where possible. From this week grants of legal assistance are now also available for interim contested hearings where any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child is in out of home care and the dispute is about contact arrangements with parents or siblings.

Media enquiries
Victoria Legal Aid:
Naomi Woodley, Senior Communications Advisor tel: 03 9280 3882 or 0409 281 304
email: Naomi.Woodley@vla.vic.gov.au
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service:
Nerita Waight, Acting Chief Executive Officer of VALS tel: 03 9418 5919
Djirra:
Laura Vines (for Antoinette Braybrook) tel: 0408 812 830

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @DjirraVIC and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA

 

DJIRRA to launch Hidden Figures campaign in celebration of 2018 NAIDOC theme Because of Her, We Can.

 

Tomorrow, DJIRRA will launch a  new campaign, Hidden Figures.  Hidden Figures brings to the fore the purpose, meaning and value of the life of each and every Aboriginal woman – those in the spotlight and all those hidden in the shadows. Regardless of roles, duties and titles, DJIRRA (formerly Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria) supports all Aboriginal women in their essence and in their culture.

Aboriginal women have been and continue to be leaders, activists and protectors of Aboriginal culture and identity. However, despite certain Aboriginal women being promoted, throughout history and still today many Aboriginal women continue to confront racism, poverty, violence and vilification on a daily basis; seeking dignity but denied it; cherishing their children but torn from them; wanting safety but facing pain. These are the Hidden Figures: the women obscured from public consciousness and living in the shadows. For some Aboriginal women, this kind of invisibility may be a choice; for others it is not.

Aboriginal women are often viewed as one thing. This video campaign created by DJIRRA, with funding from DJIRRA and Victoria Legal Aid, aims to show that Aboriginal are not just victims, and they are not just leaders. They are simply Aboriginal women. And for that alone, they deserve to be heard, respected and celebrated.

“DJIRRA is a voice for the hidden figures. DJIRRA works with Aboriginal women who are invisible to our system, overlooked by decision-makers and silenced by systemic barriers,” says Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of DJIRRA.

Aboriginal women from across Victoria participated in the video. These women, all of whom work in the justice and legal setting, stand united in saying that the work we do is not about us it is about the ‘hidden figures’.

On Tuesday, 17th July will see 200+ Aboriginal women gathering at Northcote’s Regal Ballroom at 218 High Street, Northcote for DJIRRA’s Sisters Day Out workshop to celebrate NAIDOC’s 2018 theme of Because of Her, We Can and launch DJIRRA’s Hidden Figures campaign.

DJIRRA workshops have been running since 2008 and have reached more than 10,000 Aboriginal women across Victoria. Sisters Day Out gives Aboriginal women an opportunity to come together in a culturally safe and celebratory space to connect, support eachother, access information about rights and options, and engage with support services available on the day including lawyers, counselors and social workers.

“Each Aboriginal woman connecting with DJIRRA – using a service, attending a workshop, joining a project, advocating for change – has a story to tell. Telling it is her choice. But in voicing it – be that quietly, hesitantly, proudly or powerfully – she defines what it is to be an Aboriginal woman. It is because of her, that other Aboriginal women can,” says Ms Braybrook.

Media Contact: Laura Vines for Antoinette Braybrook on 0408 812 830 or lvines@djirra.org.au.  

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @DjirraVIC and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA

 

Djirra (formerly the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria) is hosting a Sisters Day Out® Workshop for the Aboriginal women of Mildura and surrounding areas this Tuesday 29 May.

The Sisters Day Out workshop is a day that celebrates Aboriginal culture and brings Aboriginal women within the community together for a day of pampering including hairdressing, massage, manicures and more.

“Aboriginal women deal with a lot of stress in their day to day lives. This workshop reminds women to take time out to look after themselves, as well as looking after everyone else,” says Djirra Chief Executive Officer, Antoinette Braybrook.

The Sisters Day Out workshop program, conducted by Djirra, began in 2007. Since then close to 10,000 Aboriginal women have participated in this highly successful program.

As well as pampering, Sisters Day Out features family violence education, including information on how legal and other services can assist women and children to achieve safer outcomes. A Djirra lawyer and a counsellor are available for any women who wish to discuss their situation privately on the day.

“Sisters Day Out breaks down barriers to reporting for Aboriginal victim/survivors of family violence. There is a lot of fear and mistrust about disclosing family violence. At Djirra, we know Aboriginal women experiencing violence won’t just walk through our doors – we need to take our services to the community,” said Ms Braybrook. “Through Sisters Day Out, we provide a culturally safe space in which Aboriginal women can talk about family violence, the impacts on our families and communities, and learn what local supports are available to keep women and their children safe.”

“Tomorrow’s workshop may well be our biggest yet, with more than 300 women
expected to come along,” said Ms Braybrook. “Our numbers at Sisters Day Out are always high but this is a record. There is clearly a strong demand for our critical, culturally safe and specialised supports in this region,” said Ms Braybrook.

This event is funded by the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation under a four year contract Djirra received to deliver its suite of culturally safe, early intervention and prevention programs. This funding formed part of the State Government’s unprecedented 2017-18 investment into addressing family violence made following the Royal Commission into Family Violence. “After many challenging years of funding uncertainty, we feel positive that we now have the security to focus on our critical early intervention/prevention programs, drawing on Aboriginal women’s resilience to reduce vulnerability to violence. We will be returning to Mildura later this month to deliver a Dilly Bag program and we hope to come back soon to deliver our Young Luv program as well.”

The Mildura Sisters Day Out will take place on Tuesday 29 May from 9:30am to 3:00pm at the Midway Centre, Midway Drive, Baronga. Aboriginal women can attend for free and more than 300 women are already registered. Media may attend by prior appointment only. Djirra provides culturally safe legal assistance, early intervention prevention and community legal education to Aboriginal victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault.

Media Contact: Laura Vines for Antoinette Braybrook on 0408 812 830 or lvines@djirra.org.au

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @DjirraVIC and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA

 

 

 

Today’s Victorian Budget contains welcome investment into Aboriginal self-determination
and ongoing support to address and prevent family violence.

‘After last year’s unprecedented $1.9billion investment in addressing and preventing family
violence, we are pleased to see sustained investment in this critical area going forward.
However we must remember that when it comes to family violence there are no quick fixes.
This is an issue that requires generational change and long-term, significant funding,’ says
Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of Djirra (formerly the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention
and Legal Service Victoria).

This Budget includes a remarkable $116 million over four years to support Aboriginal
Victorians, including a total of $47.3 million over four years to address the over
representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care through the Wungurilwil
Gapgapduir (Strong Families) – Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement, launched last
week.

‘Djirra welcomes the Andrews Government’s commitment to Aboriginal self-determination
and reducing the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from
their families and communities,’ says Ms Braybrook. ‘However, we must make sure this
translates into real change on the ground for Aboriginal mothers experiencing family
violence.’

‘Family Violence is the single biggest driver of Aboriginal child removal, with 88% of
Aboriginal children in care having experienced family violence. We need to see a
transformation in how the system supports Aboriginal mothers experiencing family
violence as a fundamental starting point in intervening earlier to keep our children safe in
their family’s care’, says Antoinette Braybrook. ‘We need a system that understands both
mum and children are victims of family violence – kids aren’t collateral damage to violence
against mum; and mums aren’t to blame for the violence they endure.’

The 2018-19 Victorian Budget also contains welcome investment of $9.1million in 2018-19
for the Indigenous Family Violence 10 Year Plan, and ongoing investment of $1.4million and
$1.5million in future years. Similarly, modest investment towards implementation of other
key strategies to reduce family violence across the population continues – such as the Family Violence Industry
Plan, ‘Free From Violence’ prevention strategy, and ‘Safe and Strong’ Gender Equality Strategy.

‘We look forward to seeing further funding announcements throughout this election year and a bi-partisan
commitment to addressing family violence – especially long-term investment in culturally safe early
intervention and the critical work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations who specialise in working
with victims/survivors to provide holistic, wrap-around support for Aboriginal women who are among those
at highest risk of violence in our community.’

Media Contact: Laura Vines for Antoinette Braybrook on 0408 812 830 or lvines@djirra.org.au

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @DjirraVIC and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA

FVPLS Victoria CEO Antoinette Braybrook has been recognised as an inaugural international gender justice champion for her tireless work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are victims/survivors of family violence.

The honour, announced in New York today by Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, is in recognition of Ms Braybrook’s lifelong advocacy ensuring the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander women are visible.

“Family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has reached epidemic levels in Australia,” said Ms Braybrook. “Despite the shockingly disproportionate rates of family violence, our women remain the most legally disadvantaged group in the country.”

Ms Braybrook has been the CEO of FVPLS Victoria since its inception 15 years ago. She has also held the position of National Convenor of the National Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum for the last 5 years.

“On a daily basis, our organisation works with Aboriginal women who have been failed by the system,” said Ms Braybrook. “Our women often turn away from mainstream services because
they don’t feel safe. They are not believed by the police. They are judged and disrespected. They are too scared to report violence; fearful their children will be taken away.”
“Antoinette is a formidable advocate for our women. Her tireless campaign to increase the visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experiences is leaving a lasting legacy”
said Marion Hansen, Chairperson of FVPLS Victoria.

“She is a trailblazer, influencing systemic change within the justice system that is improving the safety of Aboriginal women and their children. Life for the next generation of Aboriginal women
will be different because of her,” said Ms Hansen.

“I’m very proud and humbled to accept this honour. But, the recognition really belongs to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our communities,” said Ms Braybrook. “Our
women are strong and courageous. We are the leaders, role models and nurturers in our community.”

In 2018, the theme for NAIDOC Week will be Because of her, we can! and will celebrate the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and
continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.

“While there has been some progress to amplify the voices and visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, so much more remains to be done,” said Ms Braybrook. “Empowering and giving a voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is the first major step towards reducing the scourge of
family violence that we experience.”

The Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice is launching the Gender Justice Legacy Wall to coincide with the 15th anniversary this year of the International Criminal Court and the 20th anniversary next year of the adoption of the Rome Statute. The Legacy Wall honours and celebrates survivors, advocates, judges, prosecutors and others who have contributed to the field of international gender justice.

The Gender Justice Legacy Wall will be housed in the new International Criminal Court building as an installation and unveiled during the 20th anniversary activities at the Court in 2018. Further information about the Gender Justice Legacy Wall is available at http://4genderjustice.org/gender-justice-legacy-wall/.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @FVPLSVictoria and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA
Media Contact: Ben Schokman for Antoinette Braybrook on 0403 622 810 or bschokman@fvpls.org

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) has today released a review of its Child Protection Program which highlights the crucial role Aboriginal Community Controlled legal assistance services, like
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria (‘FVPLS Victoria’), play in supporting Aboriginal women experiencing family violence to access justice and maintain
the safe and ongoing care of their children.

“The very real risk of having children removed is one of the major barriers to Aboriginal women reporting family violence and seeking the help and support that is needed,” said
Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of FVPLS Victoria. “Aboriginal women experiencing family violence need to be able to access culturally safe, specialist and holistic services to keep
their children safe.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are grossly overrepresented in the child protection system. The VLA report identifies that around
one-third of child protection cases that go to court involve concerns that do not require the child to be immediately removed from the home.

“This report recognises that the current legal service response has failed to meet the needs of Aboriginal women and their children,” said Ms Braybrook. “Most importantly,
the report identifies that a client-focussed service model must prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.”

VLA has also committed to provide additional resources to the Aboriginal legal assistance services, including FVPLS Victoria, to enable them to deal with more child protection
matters. The report also identifies that Aboriginal children, young people and parents should be given the choice of being represented by an Aboriginal legal service.

“A lack of resources severely limits the number of vulnerable women and their children that we can assist,” said Ms Braybrook. “I commend Victoria Legal Aid for putting its
money where its mouth is, and backing up the content of this important report with a much-needed funding injection to Aboriginal legal services.”

“This new approach recognises that family violence is the single biggest driver of the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and communities. Aboriginal children
are being removed at higher rates than at any time since white settlement,” said Ms Braybrook.

“If we are to turn this around, we must support Aboriginal victims/survivors of family violence to access preventative legal advice and support to understand their legal rights and put a plan in place to keep their children safe in every sense of the word. That means physically, emotionally, culturally and spiritually safe,” said Ms Braybrook.

“Far too often we hear from the women we work with that they didn’t understand child protection was a legal issue or that they needed to talk to a lawyer until it was too late.”

“This funding will provide much needed support for our women and ultimately our children, families and communities,” said Ms Braybrook. “Importantly, this new approach recognises Aboriginal peoples’ right to access culturally safe, specialist and holistic legal assistance from Aboriginal
community controlled organisations.”

FVPLS Victoria operates the only Aboriginal community controlled legal assistance service in Victoria which exclusively specialises in assisting victim/survivors of family violence and sexual assault. Child protection is one of our core areas of focus.

FVPLS Victoria provides holistic, culturally safe frontline legal and non-legal supports, as well as early intervention and prevention programs to Aboriginal victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault across Victoria.

A copy of Victoria Legal Aid’s report is available here.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @FVPLSVictoria and Antoinette Braybrook: @BraybrookA
Media Contact: Ben Schokman for Antoinette Braybrook on 0403 622 810 or bschokman@fvpls.org

Stand with usAgainst family violence



Make a donation