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First Peoples

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Innovative models in addressing violence against Indigenous women is an ANROWS research report led by Professor Harry Blagg of the University of Western Australia. Foregrounding the perspective of Aboriginal people who work within the family violence space or have had experience of family violence, this report is based on qualitative research in three sites in Australia: Fitzroy Crossing (Western Australia), Darwin (Northern Territory), and Cherbourg (Queensland). It supports the creation of a network of place-based Indigenous family violence strategies owned and managed by Indigenous people and linked to initiatives around alcohol reduction, inter-generational trauma, social and emotional wellbeing, and alternatives to custody. These initiatives may be constructed differently depending on context, but would ensure that responses to family violence reflect the needs of local women.

Key findings:

Violence against Indigenous women takes place at the intersection of a range of different forms of oppression, of which gender remains one. Emerging themes include:

  • Mainstream agencies and Indigenous women hold different notions of what consists an “integrated response”.
  • Non-Indigenous practice focuses on an integrated criminal justice response that is designed to make the system more efficient and bring perpetrators to account.
  • Indigenous organisations look at “integration” in terms of a holistic response that focuses on prevention and integration with cultural health and healing families.

Policy and practice implications:

  • Intervention and prevention in the family violence arena should be underpinned by a focus on social and emotional wellbeing philosophy.
  • The Western Australia Police Order model should be the subject of deeper scrutiny and considered for use in other jurisdictions, particularly to identify how Indigenous organisations could play a greater role in following up interventions and working with families.
  • Innovations in court practices, such as those designed to simplify proceedings and ensure victim safety, have relevance to family violence. The Integrated Domestic Violence Court’s “one family/one judge” response (Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Collingwood) is an example.
  • Consider the use of Gladue reports, which require judges to consider systemic factors and alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and are mandatory in some Canadian territories when courts are sentencing or considering bail for Indigenous offenders.
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