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The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised that family violence is a key driver of poor mental health. Djirra’s submission …
Our Media Releases
Today at the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES) in Brunswick East, a group of Elders and respected Aboriginal women revealed …
Today, Corrections Minister Ben Carroll announced additional funding for Djirra to expand its work with Aboriginal women who are at …
Djirra and Dardi Munwurro are pleased to announce this gathering to be held in mid-November 2020 in Melbourne: ‘Women’s Business, …
Antoinette Braybrook, CEO Djirra today commended the Victorian Government’s decision to decriminalise public drunkenness and to commit to a health alternative.
“While we commend the historic decision by the Victorian Government to decriminalise public drunkenness, sadly it took Tanya Day’s Coronial Inquest and her family’s determination for this to happen. Aboriginal people have been fighting for this law to be abolished for a long time and I commend the Day family for carrying on that fight”, Ms Braybrook said.
“When Tanya Day was arrested, Aboriginal women were 11 times more likely to be arrested for public drunkenness than non-Aboriginal women. This is systemic racism and a contributing factor to Aboriginal women being the fastest growing prison population in Australia”.
“Abolishing the offence of public drunkenness was a recommendation 30 years ago from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. Governments must now look to Aboriginal community controlled organisations for the implementation of a heath alternative and invest in support for Aboriginal women to keep us safe and out of the prison system”, Ms Braybrook said.
Media contacts: Amanda Bresnan, Manager Strategy, 0448 060 765, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week the United Nations heard a scathing statement about a discriminatory Federal Government parenting scheme that targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and single mothers.
In a joint statement with the Human Rights Law Centre, Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of Djirra, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the program, called ‘Parentsnext’, is setting First Nations women up to fail and must be abandoned.
“We have been told of an Aboriginal woman – who took on the care of her sister’s children when her sister was murdered. She now has 8 children in her care. She is doing her best, yet has had income support payments cut-off for prioritising the care of her children over travelling long distances, only to sit for hours waiting for meaningless appointments.”
“Our First Nations people continue to experience extreme levels of poverty and disadvantage resulting from punitive, racist and discriminatory government policies, and this program is just one example. We go between being ignored by governments and then targeted for treatment. Surely it’s not too much to ask the government to respect the incredible work our women do for their families and communities and to partner with us.”
The ParentsNext program forces fulltime parents to deprioritise caring for toddlers so as to complete mandatory tasks, many of which are burdensome or pointless, or risk having their parenting payments cut.
The Morrison Government admits that the program is racially discriminatory – breastfeeding mothers are dragged into an intensive version of the program that targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents with babies as young as 6 months.
Edwina MacDonald, Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the program was driving struggling families deeper into poverty.
“It is clear the Australian Government is failing to value women’s caring work and ensure that all women, no matter what work they do, have the means to a decent standard of living. Rather than pointing the finger and threatening single parents, the Government should be thanking them for the endless hours of unpaid care work they do.”
“Australia is a wealthy nation yet successive Governments have chosen to push parents with young children deeper into poverty with woefully low social security payments and harsh conditions. Australia will continue to breach its human rights obligations until it treats people on social security with decency, compassion and respect,” said MacDonald.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty tabled a report with the Human Rights Council on the United Kingdom, which highlights the devastating impact of punitive policies that target single parents with pre-school aged kids. There are salient lessons for the Australian Government in the report. In particular, that it needs to abandon its punitive ParentsNext program before it drives struggling single parent families and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents deeper into poverty.
Michelle Bennett, Communications Director, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519
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
With Human Rights Law Centre and National FVPLS Forum
Overnight the United Nations Human Rights Council heard of the alarming rates at which Australian governments are imprisoning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
In a joint statement with the Human Rights Law Centre, Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of Djirra, addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva in response to a UN experts’ report on women deprived of liberty.
“First Nations women are the fastest growing prison population in our country. We are imprisoned at 21 times the rate of other women in Australia.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are being imprisoned for issues relating to poverty, disability, family violence, homelessness and trauma. This must stop, we demand compassion, support and justice,” said Ms Braybrook.
Ms Braybrook outlined a number of urgent actions that Australian governments must take.
“We must see a move away from tough on crime and law and order approaches. Australian governments must halt building new prisons and expanding them. They must stop locking up our people and taking our mothers away.
“Governments must abolish laws that target our people including the law of public drunkenness. The Australian Government must preserve and invest in the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services, not abolish them.”
In their report, the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women noted Indigenous women in Australia are overrepresented in prisons, making up only 2.2 per cent of the population of women, but around 34 per cent of women in prison.
In response to Ms Braybrook’s statement, the Working Group identified the need to include an intersectional approach in any gender equality framework.
Edwina MacDonald, a Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, who is in Geneva for the Human Rights Council session, said the human toll of state and territory governments funnelling thousands of women into prisons is devastating.
“Australian governments must heed the recommendations of the UN Experts. They must put an end to laws and practices that disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Australian governments must hear and act on the voices of First Nations women who have the solutions,” said Ms MacDonald.
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 email@example.com
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.
Victoria Legal Aid:
Naomi Woodley, Senior Communications Advisor tel: 03 9280 3882 or 0409 281 304
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service:
Nerita Waight, Acting Chief Executive Officer of VALS tel: 03 9418 5919
Laura Vines (for Antoinette Braybrook) tel: 0408 812 830
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Djirra in the news
Djirra’s media coverage includes:
- 03/07/2019 – ParentsNext: woman caring for sister’s seven children had payments cut off
- 28/06/2019 – Expert urges UN to focus on Indigenous women imprisoned in Australia
- 07/05/2019 – Family Violence support service branches into regional Victoria by Madeline Hayman-Reber
- 21/02/2019 – The Guardian: I’d like to share a few uncomfortable truths: Australia’s violent crisis by Antoinette Braybrook
- 12/02/2019 – ProBono News: ParentsNext Under Fire for Punitive Approach to Single Mothers by Luke Michael
- 01/02/2019 – SMH: Meet the woman who should be our next morning TV star by Jenna Price
Media Contact: Amanda Bresnan for Antoinette Braybrook on email@example.com or 0392443333.