A new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has set out how First Nations women should be involved in developing plans and delivering strategies for addressing violence against First Nations women and children.
The report is an outcome of the recent Wiyi Yani U Thangani First Nations Women's Safety Policy Forum which was held virtually in September and which brought together over 150 participants from all around the country, the majority being First Nations women. The forum was a major milestone in the third stage of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) multi- year project led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, and supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).
Hosted by Commissioner Oscar, the forum provided a dedicated space for First Nations women to speak on their own terms to government, policy makers and service providers about the critical next steps for the Australian Government to progress the design and delivery of its standalone National Plan for preventing violence against First Nations women and children.
Research shows First Nations women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised and 11 times more likely to die from assault than non-Indigenous women in Australia. Family violence is also a significant contributor to rapidly increasing rates of First Nations women in incarceration and a leading cause of the removal of First Nations children into the out-of-home care system.
The report contains several recommendations in relation to the standalone national plan as well as several recommendations about addressing structural issues which create barriers to preventing violence.
The key recommendations are for First Nations women and children to lead all future efforts to prevent violence against First Nations women and children and that advisory councils and a taskforce comprising First Nations women from diverse backgrounds and those with expertise in family violence be established to oversee planning and development of prevention responses.
The report also calls for sufficient investment to ensure a safe, inclusive, accessible and culturally-secure approach to the co-design of the standalone national plan and that this plan aligns with other relevant government strategies and international human rights treaty obligations for improving the health, wellbeing and safety of First Nations women and children.
In terms of addressing structural issues, the report calls for long-term and sustained investment that emphasises holistic and community-led preventative measures as well as the establishment of a First Nations women and children’s safety policy think tank to undertake and connect relevant research. The need for a more strategic approach to the collection, analysis and management of relevant data about violence against First Nations women and children is also highlighted in the report.
The report has been released today as part of the Global 16 Days Campaign against gender-based violence. The report also comes at a time of growing media attention on the issue of violence against First Nations women and children, with ABC TV’s recent Four Corners special investigation, How many more?
Commissioner Oscar said: “This report provides a powerful statement from First Nations women about how governments and service providers can support us in our efforts to prevent violence in our families and communities.
“The solutions we need to end violence sit with us. We know what works, and we know what does not. First Nations women are the key to helping our children thrive, to keeping our communities cohesive, and to constructing cultures of care, safety and wellbeing.
“This report is important because it sets the stage for real and lasting change, and I thank all the women who have made contributions for their potent truth-telling and for their insistence that real and lasting change can only happen when First Nations women are leading that change.”
The report is being widely distributed to relevant community organisations, policymakers and services providers and is expected to be a key resource for the Federal Government as it delivers on its commitment to develop a standalone National Plan for violence against First Nations women and children.
The Wiyi Yani U Thangani First Nations Women's Safety Policy Forum Outcomes Report is available on the Commission’s website: https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/wiyi-yani-u-thangani-6
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