Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO has warned against the federal government’s decision to cut funding to the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum).
The National FVPLS Forum is the only national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of family violence and sexual assault.
The funding cuts, revealed on 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – come despite statistics showing family violence against Indigenous women in Australia is at crisis level.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence than other women in Australia. This is a national crisis and the situation demands that our voices are heard in all decision making at a national level,” said Commissioner Oscar.
“For the last two years I have been carrying out a national consultation project called Wiyi Yani U Thangani – which means ‘Women’s Voices’ in my language Bunuba. Women are saying that we need structural reform to ensure we are at the table determining the policy and programs that directly impact our lives.
“The National FVPLS Forum is a vital secretariat that gives Indigenous women’s voices collective impact. Cutting their funding reduces the capacity of this essential body to coordinate and amplify Indigenous women’s voices to government on the crisis of family violence.
“The National FVPLS Forum supports our women and helps to keep us and our families safe. It is also a member of the Close the Gap Campaign, and we must ask how we can close health and wellbeing gaps when the organisations tasked with doing so are themselves under threat of closure.”
The National FVPLS Forum supports and advocates on behalf of the thirteen member organisations who work on the frontline of family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.