The Wiyi Yani U Thangani First Nations Women's Safety Policy Forum (the Forum) was held virtually on 12 September 2022. It brought over 150 participants together including First Nations community members, practitioners, researchers, specialist experts and government participants to consider how to address the root causes and drivers of violence, as the government prepares to deliver on its commitment to develop a standalone National Plan to End Violence against First Nations Women and Children (standalone National Plan).
The Forum was designed as a self-determining space, where First Nations women could speak on their own terms, drawing on their expertise and lived experience. It drew together the diversity of issues, united voices and sought common ground to consider the way ahead. The Forum’s ultimate intention is to re-set the relationship with government, where First Nations women become central to shaping the policies and systems that impact their lives.
Forum participants consistently highlighted that First Nations women have always been central to providing the care and doing remarkable, often unrecognised, work to keep family and kin safe and well. Women are both the backbone and at the forefront of social and economic change work, such as establishing and running holistic organisations grounded in culture and community, which respond to immediate harms, enable healing, and implement culturally responsive violence prevention approaches.
Participants emphasised that transformation is required to combat systemic, structural, and continuous acts of violence which permeate every aspect of the lives of First Nations women and children, since colonisation. The disproportionate rates of all forms of violence, assault, murder and the disappearance of First Nations women and children is a national crisis caused and perpetuated by structural marginalisation, discrimination, and inequalities.
This Outcomes Report (the Report) is a contribution to setting out the pathway for transformational change, sitting alongside the long journey of advocacy of First Nations women, centuries past and present. The Report primarily deals with context setting and the steps required for how to move forward in designing effective plans and policies to end violence. At the heart of this Report, is the deep recognition of the importance of First Nations women’s lives, diverse strengths and knowledges in constructing societies of care, safety and wellbeing for women, children, men and all of society.