Djirra’s call for systemic change

Djirra’s policy and advocacy work drives systemic change to improve Aboriginal women’s access to justice, safety and equality. Our extensive on-the-ground experience working with Aboriginal communities across Victoria informs Djirra’s call for systemic change.

Djirra stands firm for change by running highly successful campaigns, maintaining a regular presence in decision making forums and committees, and contributing our expertise to important government initiatives and inquiries such as the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria.

Our CEO, Antoinette Braybrook is also the convener of the National Family Violence Prevention & Legal Services Forum and through this role she ensures that voices of Aboriginal women all across the country are heard at the national level.

We welcome community feedback and contributions to our policy and advocacy work. For more information or input contact our team at info@djirra.org.au.

Our Campaigns

At Djirra, we run campaigns to create awareness about the impacts of family violence for Aboriginal communities, help prevent family violence and advocate for Aboriginal women’s voices and rights. We know that Aboriginal women have the solutions to issues affecting their lives, so all of our campaigns are driven by Aboriginal women. To follow and support our campaigns, sign up for our newsletter or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Calls for the National Summit on Women’s Safety 2021

Our CEO is advocating for our key calls at the National Summit on Women’s Safety. Join us in calling for a separate, dedicated National Plan to eliminate family violence against Aboriginal women and children.
Aboriginal women must be visible and heard #wehavethesolutions. Download a full list of our calls here.

Solutions to Family Violence – July 2016
In 2016, we launched our Solutions to Family Violence campaign calling on everyone to stand with us.
Family violence is a national epidemic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are at the centre of this crisis. We must support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to break the cycle of disadvantage.  No more silencing the violence! Read our FVPLS Solutions Booklet and watch our Solutions to Family Violence video.
I AM NOT THE PROBLEM – October 2016 & 2017

Each year we support the #16Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence ( 25 November – 10 December) calling on the community to stand with us and take action on violence against Aboriginal women and children. In the last couple of years, we ran our  ‘I AM NOT THE PROBLEM’ campaign.

Whenever Aboriginal women are spoken about in the dominant culture or mainstream media, we are always framed as deserving of the family violence we experience. We are not the problem, we have the solutions. Hear what we say, watch our video.

Our Policy Positions


In 2010, we developed three policy papers with the aim of strengthening legal equity, accessibility and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault. Download FVPLS Victoria’s Policy Papers June 2010.

Drawing from our extensive frontline experience and insights from Aboriginal people with lived experience of the system both as victims/survivors and as workers, these papers form the foundation of our policy and advocacy work.

They continue to provide a valuable platform for Aboriginal women in Victoria to demand real and lasting change, as well as an important reference point for policy and law makers.

As Djirra has grown, we have continued to develop and strengthen our policy positions.

In 2016, the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised the need to work in partnership with Aboriginal community controlled organisations like Djirra to reduce the unacceptable levels of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

Djirra’s policy and advocacy work is founded on the following principles:

  • amplifying the voices and leadership of Aboriginal women
  • Aboriginal women and their communities have the solutions to family violence against Aboriginal people
  • we cannot end family violence against Aboriginal people unless we stop racism and gender inequality
  • improving Aboriginal women’s access to justice, culturally safe services, equality and self-determination are essential to preventing and responding to family violence
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations with expertise in family violence are best placed to support Aboriginal victims/survivors
  • Early intervention and prevention programs that strengthen connection to culture and identity, including targeted programs for Aboriginal women, are key
  • we need wide-spread reform and attitudinal change across systems to improve responses to Aboriginal victims/survivors and overcome beliefs, practices and processes which exclude, blame or silence Aboriginal victims/survivors and their children.

Our Submissions

Djirra’s submission to ALRC Inquiry into Justice Responses to Sexual Violence – May 2024

Djirra welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Inquiry into Justice Responses to Sexual Violence.

The justice system must change to become a safe and trusted option for Aboriginal women and children to be able to disclose and seek redress for sexual violence. Djirra urges the ALRC to recommend reforms that will recognise the ongoing harms caused by continuing colonisation and the entrenched systemic racism in our justice systems, and to change how we approach sexual violence perpetuated against Aboriginal women and children.

Solutions must be grounded in self-determination and respect for Aboriginal culture and ways of doing things.

Djirra’s submission to Yoorrook Inquiry: Land Injustice — December 2023

The Yoorrook Justice Commission (Yoorrook) presents a unique opportunity for Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to speak truth to the continuing legacy and suffering imposed by more than 200 years of colonisation.

Djirra welcomes the opportunity to contribute to Yoorrook’s Inquiry into Land Injustice (Land, Sky and Waters). We also welcome the themes outlined in the Issues Paper that make clear that, while the focus is on land theft and land justice, the Inquiry will examine the ongoing impacts of dispossession. Connection to Country is culture, history, stories and bloodlines: it is our spirituality and identity.

Productivity Commission Review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap Draft Report

Djirra strongly agrees with the findings of the draft report that Australian governments have consistently failed to deliver on their commitment to overcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inequality by closing the gap. The devastating outcome of the Voice to Parliament referendum means it is critical that the National Agreement targets be brought into sharp focus and immediately prioritised, addressed and met.

Djirra welcomes the Victorian government’s continued commitment to working alongside our communities to progress Truth Telling, Voice and Treaty. While this commitment is significant, it is evident that this journey will take time. In the meantime, it is essential that more is done to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determined solutions are prioritised and invested in. It is concerning that implementation of the four Closing the Gap priority areas has been delayed in Victoria, and we stand with Ngaweeyan Maar-oo in calling on government to prioritise these important initiatives equally with the Treaty process.

Submission to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan to End Violence against Women

Djirra welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. As an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation specialising in supporting and empowering women who have experienced family violence, Djirra sees the intersecting ways vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are let down by the system, punished by harsh criminal justice and child protection policies that are compounded by failures in housing and other support services

Djirra notes that there is still only limited information about both the Standalone Plan and the Action Plan and how they will operate. It is crucial that they are independent and truly reflective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s self-determination and consistent with, but not under the direction of, the National Plan. It is vital that First Nations initiatives receive sustainable, long-term funding that is truly commensurate with the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

In addition, Djirra makes 24 recommendations based on our 20 years of experience working as a specialist Aboriginal community controlled organisation that prioritises the safety of Aboriginal women and children.

Submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission on the Systemic Injustice in the Criminal Justice and Child Protection Systems

In March 2023, following Antoinette Braybrook’s evidence in December 2022, Djirra provided a written submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission’s Inquiries on the Systemic Injustice in the Criminal Justice and Child Protection Systems.

Djirra’s submission outlines our experience as an ACCO specialising in supporting and empowering women who have experienced family violence. Djirra sees the intersecting ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are let down by the system, punished by harsh criminal justice and child protection policies that are compounded by failures in housing and other support services. We see this in our family violence and child protection legal matters, our prison outreach, and our wraparound supports and workshops. So often women who experience family violence end up at the harsh end of a punitive system, incarcerated for minor offences or with their children removed.

The answer is not more prisons or money for removing kids and placing them in out of home care. It is in prioritising preventative measures – and investing in specialist organisations such as Djirra to provide culturally safe specialist services, housing, case management, specialist legal advice and representation – that our women are supported to escape the cycles established and sustained by the ongoing impacts of colonisation.

Governments must listen to, trust and invest in Djirra as a specialist organisation to develop and deliver self-determined measures. We have the lived experience, we have the solutions and we must determine our own.

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Response to the Commonwealth Government’s Consultation Paper on Improving the Competency and Accountability of Family Report Writers – December 2021

Djirra supported to the need to improve the quality of family reports being prepared for the Family Court. Djirra noted the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and ACCOs such as Djirra must be extensively consulted and funded to lead work on improvements that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Djirra also noted the concern that an excessive focus on credentials for report writers may not sufficiently address the substantial problems in the court process itself, including:

  • Difficulty in practice with challenging report findings;
  • Excessive reliance on the report, in comparison to other evidence and submissions; and
  • Poor understanding of, or insufficient weight given to abuse and family violence by some members of the judiciary.
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Djirra’s submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia – June 2022

Djirra calls on the government to fully implement the Declaration into Australian law and grant us our internationally-recognised human rights. The need is stronger than ever given the substantial failure of state, territory and federal governments to end the significant disadvantage inflicted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by a country that has not meaningfully addressed its legacy of colonialism, racism, and substantial human rights abuses, which continue to this day.

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Response to the Draft National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 – February 2022

The Commonwealth Government released a draft plan intended to underpin work across organisations and governments to end the drivers of violence against women and children. Djirra’s response makes clear the draft plan fails to show a commitment to self-determination, and lacks clear targets and accountability for governments especially in areas they control like housing, social security and punitive child removal policies. We call for a separate, dedicated national action plan to end violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children that is developed in line with the principles of self-determination.

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Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System – September 2021

On 3 June 2020 the Victorian Legislative Council agreed that the Legal and Social Issues Committee would conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Justice System. This Inquiry has broad scope to inquire into and report on a range of matters relating to Victoria’s criminal justice system. This includes an analysis of the factors influencing Victoria’s increasing prison populations, and strategies to reduce re-offending. The final report from this Inquiry is due on 28 February 2022.

Djirra’s submission draws on our unique insight as a specialist family violence Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the fastest growing prison population in Victoria. Djirra’s submission highlights the connection between family violence and the other intersecting factors that contribute to the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Djirra makes a number of recommendations that focus on bail and sentencing reform; the failure of the criminal justice system to identify family violence; lack of access to culturally appropriate legal representation and support services; lack of services in community to keep women out of the justice system; women in prison with disability; mothers in prison; impacts on children, including child removal; best practice early intervention and prevention programs; and the establishment of a Victorian Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner.

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Submission on the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Stalking – August 2021

The Victoria Law Reform Commission (‘the Commission’) was asked by Victoria’s Attorney-General to review Victoria’s responses to stalking, harassment and other similar behaviours. This includes how the Victorian Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) system works. As part of this, the Commission ran a consultation process, which Djirra was invited to participate in. While Djirra is a specialist family violence service, we are able to provide insight into stalking as it relates to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

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Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children – July 2020

On 4 June 2020, the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs adopted an inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. The inquiry was referred by the Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston.Through this inquiry the Committee will seek to inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

An earlier Senate inquiry, which followed the murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children, attracted criticism after wrapping up without any recommendations or input from victims and survivors or those working in the sector. This new Commonweath inquiry has been described as an opportunity to explore at systemic level the voices of women and children with lived experience. The Terms of Reference include the impact of of COVID-19 on the prevalence of family violence and the provision of support.

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Submission to the Family Violence Reforms Implementation Monitor – July 2020

The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor was established following the Royal Commission into Family Violence and independently monitors and reviews the Victorian Government and its agencies in delivering the state-wide family violence reform. The Monitor reports annually to Parliament and the community on the progress of the implementation of the reforms. Monitoring is now underway for the Monitor’s fourth and final report, which will examine what has changed since the Royal Commission into Family Violence released its report in 2016, and what remains to be done.

In this submission Djirra shared our views on:

  • how the family violence service system, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experience of it, has changed since the Royal Commission
  • looking forward: what is still required in the family violence reforms
  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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.

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Submission in Response to Child Safe Standards Review – Djirra February 2019

The child safe standards (standards) apply to all Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities for children or employ children or young people. The standards are a compulsory framework that support organisations to be safer for children. The standards require organisations to implement policies and procedures to make sure that the safety of children is promoted and to prevent, respond to and report allegations of child abuse. The standards aim to embed the protection of children from abuse in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers. The Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking a review of the standards.

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