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Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice


2010 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS)

Closing the Gap on Family Violence National Conference

Social Justice - better outcomes for family violence prevention

Mick Gooda

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Australian Human Rights Commission

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Fremantle, WA

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Noongar people, the traditional owners of the land where we meet today, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I’d like to acknowledge the Attorney-General and thank Margaret Beattie for inviting me to speak today.

In this acknowledgement I would like to pay tribute to all of you here – you, the front-line family violence prevention workers here. I acknowledge the important and complex work that you do. You are part of a very important workforce with high responsibilities in what can sometimes be extremely stressful and distressing work. I thank you for the work that you do and for your courage in working in this very important area of service delivery. You make an important contribution to human rights in this country.

Today I have been asked to talk about a social justice perspective on ways to deliver better outcomes in family violence prevention. So this morning I will be talking about the ways in which we can take action to prevent family violence within a human rights framework.

However before we can look to prevention, we need to understand the context and situations under which family violence occurs.

Incidence of violence

So, first to the facts – I want to set out the statistical picture of family violence so we know what it is that we need to address. Stay with me here. I know many of you are very familiar with the problems and causes of family violence but I want to set them out first because they lead us to some of the preventative actions.

It is an unfortunate fact that amongst the Indigenous population, family violence occurs at rates that are significantly higher than in non-Indigenous populations. Our job is to try to understand why.

The 2009 Productivity Commission Report tells us that Indigenous people were hospitalised as a result of spouse or partner violence at 34 times the rate of non-Indigenous people.1

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that violence in Indigenous situations has escalated in past decades. In 2002 nearly one-quarter of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over reported being a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months; nearly double the rate reported in 1994.2

It is tragic also that family violence escalates to homicide in Indigenous situations at rates that are double that of the non-Indigenous population.3

The data tells us that family violence is overwhelmingly present as a factor in Indigenous homicides. In comparison with the rest of the Australian population, Indigenous homicides are most likely to occur between intimate partners.4

An Australian Institute of Criminology report of Indigenous homicides from 1990 to 2000 found that 38 percent of Indigenous homicides were between intimate partners, 19 percent involved other family, 27 percent involved friends and acquaintances and only 3 percent involved strangers.

Interestingly, the same study found a much higher rate of non-Indigenous homicides of strangers at 21 percent. So it seems that family and intimate relationships are definitive features of Indigenous homicide, while homicide in non-Indigenous situations is much more likely to involve strangers.5

We know too that there is a gender element to the statistical picture. Indigenous women are 45 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victims of domestic violence.6 And the homicide rates of Indigenous women are between 9 and 23 times higher at different times in the life cycle than they are for non-Indigenous women.7 

The statistics also tell us that alcohol is a significant factor in Indigenous family violence.8 Hospitalisation rates for all alcohol related conditions were higher for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people.9 And the homicide rates amongst Indigenous people who were drinking were much higher than the rates in the non-Indigenous population.10 The data tells us that there is more likelihood of significant harm when drinking occurs.

And finally the data tells us there are geographical patterns to Indigenous violence. From 1999 to 2005, the rate of Indigenous homicides in remote, outer regional and very remote areas was approximately three times the rate in major cities and inner regional areas.11

These data are overwhelming, and tell a very painful story for Indigenous people. The data also give us some indication of where to target our efforts.

So let’s consider what we know from the data so far:

  • Alcohol is significant.
  • Remoteness is a factor.
  • Violence escalates to homicide at high levels.
  • Indigenous violence is much more likely to be directed to close family than to strangers.

Kinship and family violence

Let’s unpack some of the contextual or the surrounding factors that influence or have an impact on family violence. I am going to talk about kinship now – or in other words, the intimate family picture of violence in Indigenous contexts.

For the majority of the non-Indigenous Australian population, kin usually includes the immediate family and a limited range of other blood relatives. Therefore when there is domestic violence, it is usually between intimate partners such as married couples or defacto partners in the context of a nuclear family unit.

However, it wont be news to many of you here that a much broader kinship network operates among traditional Indigenous societies and this broader kinship also operates in modified forms in urban Indigenous communities too.

Now the point I want to make about kin and family violence here is that the perpetrators and the victims are often related in complex ways.

Whole family groupings can often be involved in tensions and conflicts. Sometimes violence between intimate partners can trigger other violent acts amongst kin, and this can become self perpetuating. Problems can sometimes incorporate children in the tensions, and these problems can be played out in the school yard. The school yard tension then come back to the adult context and the problems can amplify.

As we all know too - kin also provides people with enormous strength and a profound sense of identity. As a consequence, ones connection to kin makes it difficult for Indigenous victims to leave violent partners. Strategies for addressing family violence in Indigenous communities need to acknowledge that as consequence of the powerful kinship networks, an Indigenous woman may be unable or unwilling to report violence or to leave her partner.

In order to leave an abusive partner an Indigenous woman would most likely have to leave her community. But to do so would separate her from extended family, from her traditional lands and her entire social, cultural and spiritual world. 

I will come back to the issue of kin and family violence prevention later in this speech.

Factors contributing to violence

But while I am still looking at the context of family violence we must not overlook the historical context and understand that intergenerational trauma requires healing.

A 2001 report entitled Violence in Indigenous Communities provides a well researched case which supports the proposition that cycles of Indigenous violence can be directly attributed to colonisation. The report argues that the violent ways in which Indigenous Australians were dispossessed of land and the forced removal of people to missions and reserves during the 20th century were causal factors in the break down of traditional life.

Australian government policies directly contributed to the de-skilling of Indigenous people and became an impetus for substance abuse and later cycles of intergenerational violence.12

We know that the Indigenous economy was destroyed by colonisation and that Indigenous people were forced into abject dependency by colonial governments. We know that Indigenous people were forced onto reserves and into missions. We know that the children from these missions and reserves were removed into institutions and when they were considered of working age they were forced into indentured slavery on the stations and in the homes of non-Indigenous people. Their labour contributed to the non-Indigenous economy so we know that non-Indigenous Australia profited from the missions.13

We know too that the so-called ‘protectionist’ policies of the last two centuries meant the development of punitive legislation to control the lives of Indigenous people. I quote here from the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody:

A person could not live on a reserve without permission, or leave or return after leaving without permission, or have a relative to live with them without permission, or work except under supervision… It was an offence to encourage or assist an Aboriginal person to leave a reserve.14

I offer this information not as excuses for violence but as part of the important picture that surrounds contemporary problems.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Bringing Them Home Report of 1998 documented the effects of forced removal on Indigenous families and culture. When Aboriginal people were removed to reserves or missions, children grew up with limited culture or identity. Children were raised with no concept of family life – having been institutionalised. These children became parents and had difficulty parenting their own children. Indigenous young people had no Indigenous role models because they were either absent or undermined. A cycle of dysfunctional family life was started.

The Bringing Them Home inquiry found that one in five people who were fostered and one in ten people who were institutionalised reported sexual abuse. It started to expose the consequences of generations of child removal, which has deeply scarred our communities. We are still dealing with its fall out, and many of our people are yet to find ways of resolving their suppressed grief and trauma. When Indigenous Australians were given permission to drink in 1960s, alcohol became a panacea for the pain of dislocated lives.

And I want to add to this that the systemic failures of government policy in the past have also included poor health and education services to Indigenous people – especially in remote Australia. The lack of good service in these areas is only just beginning to be addressed now.

For example, in remote regions, limited education services have limited the life chances of successive generations of Indigenous children. Governments are seriously failing in their obligations to provide this essential service – and education services are often missing even where the populations of school-aged children warrant them.

So let’s add to the context of family violence - that poor education options and the correspondingly low levels of education amongst Indigenous people in remote regions has limited their life options. These factors lead to depressed communities. As many of us are well aware, education offers us more options in life and helps us to problem-solve and make choices based on reasoning. These issues all impact on family violence.    

So let’s go back to our list of important points related to family violence - and extend it. We already know that:

  • Alcohol is significant.
  • Remoteness is a factor.
  • Violence escalates to homicide at high levels.
  • Indigenous violence is much more likely to be directed to close family than to strangers.

And we know too that:

  • The co-location of extended kin sometimes expands violence to other kin, affecting children and extended families.
  • Kinship, identity and connection to country make it difficult for victims to leave.
  • The trauma of racist and discriminatory government policies has led to intergenerational pain and trauma.
  • Poor education services have limited the life chances of successive generations of Indigenous people.

May of the contexts for family violence are interrelated. Sometimes the problems become self perpetuating and people in the cycle find it difficult to get out of situations that perpetuate violence.

The elements of a human rights based approach to family violence

OK, so what actions can we take to prevent family violence. Let’s look at the human rights approach.

A human rights framework is directed to governments – in other words human rights places obligations on governments. It requires that governments deliver services, supports and protections of a certain standard to all people of Australia. These standards must be applied equally and to all people, at all times.

A human rights framework does not choose between rights. You may hear that our rights are indivisible which means that our rights do not form a hierarchy. Our rights to practice our culture for example, is  indivisible from our right to live in human dignity, or to have access to adequate housing, quality education, or to work in just and favourable conditions.

When Australia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights back in the 1950s, our government took on a legal obligation to protect the rights of Indigenous Australians to maintain and practice our cultures and languages.

When we ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (or CEDAW) in the 1980s, we took on further obligations to guarantee all women in Australia equal treatment with men.

Importantly, in the context of violence against women, CEDAW requires that the Australian Government take action to protect women against violence of any kind – whether it is in the family, the workplace or another area of social life. This is an obvious way of giving meaning to every woman’s right to live without fear of violence. Note here that the government has responsibility to act if women are at risk of violence.

Children’s rights are recognised through the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Australia has ratified this Convention and it provides clear guidance on what governments must do to protect children from all forms of violence. Article 19 provides that:

  1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
  2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.15

One of the most important legal principles contained in this convention is the requirement that government decision-making is always guided by what is in the best interests of the child. When it comes to applying this principle in the context of violence against children in our communities, we should be ensuring that:

  • We look to remove the perpetrator, not the victim,
  • We only remove children from their families when their safety, welfare and wellbeing within their family, is compromised, and
  • If state and territory authorities remove Indigenous children from their families it is essential that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles contained in care and protection legislation are followed, because it is these principles that protect the rights of Indigenous children and young people.

A human rights framework also provides clarity for governments on how to resolve what might appear to be clashes between different sets of human rights.

The international human rights framework recognises that one right cannot be used to justify the subordination of another right. In fact, governments are required to ensure that certain human rights, such as cultural rights for example, are not exercised in a manner that violates other fundamental rights, like:

  • the requirement that men and women provide their free and informed consent when entering into marriage;
  • the right to life; and
  • the right to life free from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.  

By ratifying numerous treaties and signing up to certain declarations such as  the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the Australian Government has agreed to adopt a human rights framework in relation to family violence prevention. All of these treaties and others provide direction for government.  

The Government cannot favour one treaty over another and therefore must take a holistic approach to human rights and not just focus on issues that suit our politics of the day – or are perceived as popular with sectors of the population.

When it comes to addressing family violence in Indigenous communities, this means governments can and indeed must develop a holistic and truly integrated approach.

As I mentioned earlier, we know that the social problems confronting our communities are inter-related. It therefore makes sense to develop programs and services that are capable of addressing multiple problems simultaneously

Not only is this more cost-effective – it is more likely to break the patterns of behaviour that cause social dysfunction and violence.

For example – when you start to question why Indigenous men and women constitute the fastest growing prison populations in Australia, the fact that many have suffered family violence either as children and adults, is an important starting point for policy development.

It is not surprising that the kinds of pre-and post-release programs that are needed to develop the capacity and empower Indigenous men and women to break the cycle of poverty and re-offending are centred around supports that are relevant to tackling family violence – namely:

  • access to substance misuse programs such as drug and alcohol related programs and counselling
  • access to mental health services
  • access to adequate and safe housing;
  • ongoing access to healing programs that are grounded in Aboriginal customary law and reaffirm cultural identity; and
  • access to programs that help people to reconnect with their families and reintegrate into the broader community.

Unfortunately, government support in the form of secure funding for healing programs and the like, is often not forthcoming. Some of the most effective and most sought-after services get de-funded and either have to cut back on what they do, or cease operating altogether.

A human rights approach to family violence would be one that supports integrated and coordinated regional approaches with a focus on the safety of victims. Such an approach could assist communities to:

  • prepare regional action plans to address violence,
  • pool their resources, and allow for more efficient use of those resources; and
  • develop composite violence programs that provide a more holistic approach to community violence.

The work that you do as Family Violence Prevention Legal Services is very much in this vein. I know that many of your services work collaboratively to support the victims of violence. I know that many of your services favour integrated models of service delivery with health services, cultural centres, mental health services and healing programs. I know that your Community Legal Education Workers are focussed on working with other services in order to provide support to people who are confronting very complex issues. 

We also know that a human rights approach in the Indigenous context favours actions that allow for self determination – that is, for action that is generated by Indigenous people for Indigenous people.

We need to ensure that government agencies foster and support grassroots initiatives that communities have instigated rather than stepping in to ‘instruct’ communities on what to do. Governments must back community initiatives – particularly where they relate to child safety and protection. We have seen some excellent work in this vein. The work to reduce alcohol related harm in places like Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek here in WA has been community driven and therefore it has much greater likelihood of long term success that an imposed regime.

Local solutions and local action to solve problems is also likely to include all of the people who are part of the picture and not pick out certain groups for individual treatment.

For example, in addressing family violence, we need strong leadership from women, but we also need the support of Indigenous men if we are to make progress in stamping out violence. Indigenous men need to model appropriate behaviour, challenge violence, and stand up against it. We also need to educate children. We need to give them the skills of problem solving as well as strategies for being safe from violence and abuse.

A right to safety

Community safety is a cornerstone of a human rights approach. As I said earlier in this presentation that it is extremely difficult for Indigenous victims of violence to leave their kin and their communities – I’d like to add that in some places in this country it is equally difficult and dangerous to stay.

Many of you here in this room are well aware of places where there are no police, no safe houses, no public transport out of town, no public telephones and no one to respond to your call for help. Add to this a policy that is currently in operation in the Northern Territory which prohibits locks on the doors of public houses in remote communities. 

It is a simple fact that Indigenous Australians have unequal access to remedies against violence such as police intervention. This situation is clearly unacceptable for any Australian citizen. Government must address the allocation of police resources in Australia.

We all have a right to safety. Yet in many places there is no government service to support that right.  For example, in the Northern Territory there are 641 discrete communities. Before the Intervention in the NT there were police services in 47 locations across the Northern Territory.16 That’s a lot of people missing out. Obviously the police presence in the NT cannot begin to service everyone, and unfortunately it is the Indigenous communities who miss out.17

Outside of the major regional centres and some larger townships, the Northern Territory has 570 communities with populations of less than 200. It is these communities that have limited access to a range of services, including police.18

The majority of these communities rely on police from larger townships who may be hundreds of kilometres away. A family violence crisis in these communities is not likely to draw police intervention in a timeframe that will resolve a crisis. The police may arrive after there has been a serious altercation to lay charges and assist in a patch-up operation. There is no consideration for alternative ways of ensuring community safely. There is no Plan B. Communities live in the knowledge that no help will be forthcoming.

The lack of police presence has other implications. Police are a disincentive to crime – they have a preventative influence. In addition, police can provide early intervention in incidents before they escalate. When we consider that homicide rates in remote regions are three times the rate in urban centres, we begin to see that lack of policing may play a role.  

A human rights approach would continue to advocate for a police presence in communities where required. This is a fundamental right in cities across Australia. The situation should not be unequal for people because of their geographic location. In addition, a human rights approach might say that more police are required for fewer citizens in remote areas because of the particular needs of the area. 

Equally important is the method of policing.  Even when they can report, Indigenous people tend to be reluctant because of kin relationships and the very real fear of payback from the perpetrator or the perpetrator’s relatives.  

This tells us that the usual method of policing will not always work. Police need to work with communities to develop agreed violence prevention strategies. As long as police investigations are carried out in a manner that alerts the entire community to the issue under investigation, Indigenous people will remain reluctant to report. Police should be working with you to support your work. I am aware that many of you do work closely with the police to support the victims who have difficulty in reporting.

I have no doubt that there is a good deal of frustration amongst professionals attempting to assist Indigenous women in family violence situations. Police and others can become disillusioned when women are reluctant to leave violent partners – or to report violence. However, if governments and authorities can’t ensure safety, we need to be careful that we see non-reporting for what it is – fear that the authorities cannot protect, and fear that the problems will escalate. Too often we hear a view that Indigenous non-reporting is cultural. This stereotype is counter productive. It doesn’t begin to explore the multiple reasons for non-reporting and it doesn’t assist in determining the resources that are required overcome violence.

Alcohol - ‘[The curse of] this white man’s water’

Earlier in this presentation I raised the relationship between alcohol and family violence. I now want to look at ways that Indigenous people are attempting to mitigate its harms. While lower proportions of Indigenous people drink alcohol than the rest of the Australian population, those that do drink are approximately six times more likely to drink at high-risk levels than non Indigenous people.20 In recognition of this harm, some communities have developed their own strategies. The Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management Plan is one such example.21 

Alcohol was introduced to the residents of Groote Eylandt by miners in the early 1960s. As a result, escalating crime and social dysfunction began to tear the communities apart. Over the next 20 years, Groote Eylandt became notorious for its high crime rate. Famously likened to a ‘war zone’, Groote Eylandt had an imprisonment rate of 2,274 per 100,000 in 1986, more than ten times that of population centres like Alice Springs and Darwin.22

Over the following 20 years, various plans were developed to reduce the impact of alcohol on Groote Eylandt communities. None of them was able to significantly impact on the supply or demand of alcohol.

During the 1990s work started on what would become the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management Plan. After 10 years of planning and negotiation, the Plan came into force in 2005. Under this Management Plan, permits are needed by anyone who wishes to purchase alcohol for consumption at their own residence.23

What makes this Plan different from the others is that all aspects of its purpose and implementation were negotiated and agreed to by the wider community. It is still early days for the Plan and there are some mixed results, but there are promising signs. Between 2004-05 and 2005-06, the incidents of assault and aggravated assault fell by 73 percent and 67 percent respectively.24  Disturbances and public drunkenness also fell markedly by 40 percent and 75 percent respectively. 25

However, the rate of reports of family violence coming to the attention of police actually increased from 90 in 2002-03 to a peak of 123 in 2003-04 and then to 117 in 2005-06. Evaluators of the Plan have argued that there could be other factors at play here - such as more people reporting abuse, rather than an actual increase in the number of family violence incidences.26 This is corroborated by the fact that the Northern Territory Police undertook a number of initiatives to encourage the reporting of family violence as well as introducing temporary restraining orders to the Eylandt.27

The effectiveness of alcohol management plans almost always depends on the level of support the plan receives both from within the community and from external services such as police, alcohol licensees and community service deliverers. Factors such as the level of policing of dry areas can have a significant impact on levels of sly grog entering dry areas.

Many plans receive negligible support through complimentary measures like community education, alcohol treatment and rehabilitation facilities and counsellors or meaningful work within or around the affected community. 28 29  

Community education is human rights work and I am aware that the Community Legal Education workers in your services take a community development approach which can include:

  • assisting communities to develop anti-violence campaigns like painting community murals about community safety;
  • working with the local Justice Group to address a local problems like alcohol management;
  • assisting individuals and groups to access mental health services or mediation resources.


Alcohol abuse and violent offending can be expressions of trauma that go beyond the individual experience. Many Indigenous Australians are influenced by ‘inter-generational trauma’ which stretches back to first colonisation and reaches into the contemporary experiences of marginalisation and dispossession. This is why any work to address family violence also needs to look at healing models.

An emphasis on healing recognises that there can be an interchange between the experiences of offender and victim in the cycle of violence. The Little Children are Sacred report cites the unpublished thesis of Caroline Atkinson-Ryan to illustrate this connection. Through her interviews with prisoners she found that over a third of the men in her sample had been sexually abused, and of these most could be diagnosed with post traumatic stress symptoms.  Her research reflects the experience of abuse shaping offending behaviour.30

High levels of victimisation can be linked to trauma and further violent behaviour. For example, a 2003 NSW study, Speak Out, Speak Strong, found that:

  • 70 percent of Indigenous women in prison had reported being sexually abused as children;
  • 78 percent reported being physically abused as adults; and
  • 44 percent reported sexual assault as adults.31

Research tells us that family violence and other forms of abuse are common to other countries where the Indigenous population has been exposed to colonisation, loss of culture and pervasive disadvantage. In response, countries have developed programs such as the well known Hollow Water Community Holistic Circle Healing Program in Manitoba, Canada. This program works with victims, offenders and community members. Over the past 15 years, 107 offenders have completed the program with less than 1 percent recidivism, and at a saving of $15 million dollars over 10 years to the Canadian government.32

Healing is an important part of recovery. We need to look at ways in which counselling, narrative therapies, mental health and social work services can be provided across the country.

Indigenous people must be part of the solution

I’d like to conclude by saying that self determination is the antidote to the imposed systems of the mission movements and reserve days. Indigenous participation is required across all areas of justice, policy development and governance.

It is essential that we Indigenous people participate in the policy decisions and processes that directly relate to our interests. Indigenous people should be involved at the earliest possible stage in any policy design process. As my example of alcohol management on Groote Eylandt demonstrates, the solutions to problems are most likely to have success when they come from within communities themselves. Bureaucrats, governments and service deliverers can have the best intentions in the world, but unless they engage the recipients of their services, they may be missing the mark.

Our challenge is to bring the right resources to Indigenous communities so that we can address violence and its causes. And we must do it in a way which is based on the principles of non-discrimination and equality. Indigenous Australians have a right to the same level of resourcing as non-Indigenous Australians.  

Governments and others must recognise the cultural distinctiveness and diversity of Indigenous people and provide us with full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect us. In this way, Indigenous people are not the problem, they are an essential part of the solution. This is the human rights approach.

I’d like to conclude by again paying tribute to the front line workers here in the room. I thank you for you courage and your persistence in work that can be very challenging. You are the human rights champions and I will continue to advocate in any way that I can for support for you in this work.

Thank you

[1] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Chapter 4.11 Family and community violence At:  (Viewed 23 April 2010)

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008. At: (Viewed 23 April 2010)

[3] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007, p 98, table 3.10.1

[4] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007, p 98, table 3.10.1

[5] Mouzos J., Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, Australian Institute of Criminology (2001), p 3-4. At: (Viewed 5 September 2008)

[6] Cunneen C., 'Preventing violence against indigenous women through programs which target men', (2002) 25(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 242, p 242

[7] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008. at: accessed 5 September 2008

[8] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Chapter 10.3 Safe and Supportive Communities, Alcohol consumption and harm. At:  (Viewed 23 April 2010)

[9] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Chapter 10.3 Safe and Supportive Communities, Alcohol consumption and harm. At:  (Viewed 23 April 2010)

[10] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2009, Chapter 10.3 Safe and Supportive Communities, Alcohol consumption and harm. At:  (Viewed 23 April 2010)

[11] Australia’s Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007, Chapter 3, Headline Indicators. At: (Viewed 5 September 2008)

[12] Memmott P, Stacy R, Chambers C & Keys C, Violence in Indigenous communities, Report to the Crime Prevention Branch of the Attorney-General's Department, in association with Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, University of Queensland (2001), p 11, available online at:$file/violenceindigenous.pdf accessed 5 September 2008

[13] Final Report of The Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody - A Summary, Chapter 10, 1991, available online at: accessed 4 September 2008

[14] The Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody, National Report Volume 1 - 1.4 The Importance of History,  1991, available online at: accessed 4 September 2008

[15] Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Art. 19. At: (Viewed 30 April 2010)

[16] Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Annual Report 2007, September 2007, p 134, available online at: accessed 8 September 2008

[17] Fordham A., Schwab R., Summarising: Taylor (2006), Demography is Destiny, Except in the Northern Territory, Reference No. 146, The Australian National University Education, Training and Indigenous Futures, CAEPR Policy Research: 1990-2007, Research Summaries, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, available online at: accessed 8 September 2008

[18] Australian Human Rights Commission, A snapshot of the Northern Territory, available online at: accessed 8 September 2008

[19] Anderson, P., and Wild, R., Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, 2007, p163.

[20] Chikritzhs, T., and Brady, M., ‘Fact or fiction? A critique of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey’, (2002), 25, Drug and Alcohol Review,pp277- 287

[21] In 2006, the University of Sydney was invited to conduct a review of the Groote Eylandt alcohol management plan on behalf of the Northern Territory Liquor Licensing Commission. The results of this evaluation are found in Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System. This evaluation is a comprehensive overview and evaluation of the development, operation and effectiveness of the alcohol management on Groote Eylandt, and includes all the major communities on both Groote and Bickerton Island (Milyakbura), of which Umbakumba is one. Permission to quote from the report granted by Ian Crundell, Principal Advisor Community and Justice Policy Division, Dept. of Justice, via email, 22/10/2007

[22] Extracted data from Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Vol. 5, s4.5, Table 4, available online at:, accessed 8 January 2008

[23] Unpublished, Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, p19

[24] Unpublished, Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, p33.

[25] Unpublished, Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, p33.

[26] Unpublished, Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, pp35- 36.

[27] Unpublished, Conigrave, K., Proude, E. and d’Abbs, P., Evaluation of the Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Alcohol Management System, A report produced for the Department of Justice, Northern Territory Government, July 31, 2007, pp35- 36.

[28] Conigrave, K, Correspondence with Social Justice Commissioner’s Office, 17 January 2008

[29] Wodak, H., Communication with Social Justice Commissioner’s Office, 6 November 2007

[30] Atkinson- Ryan, C. cited in Anderson, P. and Wild, R., Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Northern Territory Government, Darwin, 2007, p67

[31] Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, Speak out, Speak Strong, Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, Sydney, 2003, p5.

[32] Young, M., Aboriginal Healing Circle Models Addressing Child Sexual Assault, An examination of community based healing circles used to address child sexual assault within Aboriginal communities in Canada, The Winston Churchill Trust of Australia, 2007.