Intimate partner violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking are prevalent problems with serious consequences for women, their children and wider society (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), 2014; Webster, 2016). While affecting women across the population, this violence is more prevalent among, and has a particular and far-reaching impact upon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, their families and their communities. Such violence may be perpetrated by non-Indigenous men, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. Violence taking place within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is seen as part of a broader issue of family violence.
Many factors contribute to this violence and arise at the individual, relationship, community, organisational and societal levels. Some of these factors particularly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Discussed in greater detail in this report, these include:
- influences associated with being a colonised people (e.g. the intergenerational impacts of the forced removal of children);
- exposure to other forms of violence in the community and institutional environments (e.g. prisons); and
- economic and social marginalisation.
Gender inequality and the disrespect of women increase the likelihood of this violence occurring (Council of Australian Governments (COAG), 2011; Garcia-Moreno et al., 2015). There is evidence that violence against women can be prevented before it occurs by addressing the underlying factors that cause the problem. Prevention action complements, but is separate from, responses after violence has occurred. However, both forms of action are required to reduce the prevalence of violence over time.