Submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – July 2019

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised that family violence is a key driver of poor mental health. Family violence not only has a devastating impact on the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women — it is a leading contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removal, homelessness, poverty, drug and alcohol misuse and incarceration.

It is important for the Royal Commission to understand that colonial violence is not a stagnant piece of history. Intersecting systemic racism and systemic sexism keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women trapped in violent situations and cycles of trauma. The mental health system can present as yet another form of violence.

This submission shares what Djirra has learnt from many years of working on the ground at the frontline with Aboriginal women who experience family violence, including the intersecting systems and structural drivers that contribute to poor mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; provides a deeper understanding of the complex and unique barriers that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women face when seeking to access the mental health system; and highlights the critical role that Djirra plays in supporting Aboriginal women on their journey to social and emotional wellbeing through culturally safe access to early intervention and prevention and wraparound support.