SNAICC has told a Senate inquiry into domestic violence in Australia that intergenerational trauma as a result of the continuing impacts of colonisation is contributing strongly to the incidence of family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In its submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration References inquiry, SNAICC wrote the issue “requires urgent redress through measures that heal and strengthen families with a focus on supporting community-controlled services to implement good practice principles in responding to and preventing violence in our communities.”
SNAICC has requested that the Senate committee consider the new SNAICC resource, Safe for Our Kids, which provides a framework — based on evidence and community consultations — for implementing best practice in family violence response and prevention.
SNAICC observed that family violence occurs across Australian society and in almost all cultural groups across the globe. However, the incidence of family violence across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is disproportionately higher in comparison to that in the broader Australian community:
- In 2006-07, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls were 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to assaults related to family violence than non-Indigenous women and girls.
- An estimated 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have experienced one or more incidents of physical violence in the previous 12 months.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are between two and five times more likely than non-Indigenous people to experience violence as victims or offenders.
SNAICC observed that family violence is complex and likely to result from a combination of personal, familial, social, economic and cultural factors, and the interrelationship amongst these factors can be difficult to disentangle.
Higher prevalence of family violence in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is strongly connected to experiences of colonisation, and forced separation of children from their families.
Providing opportunities for healing and preventing the transmission of trauma through future generations will assist to prevent family violence and improve outcomes for the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children.
SNAICC asserted that the lack of meaningful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community participation in planning and development has limited effective service delivery in responses to family violence.
While there is evidence of the importance of local solutions to prevent and to respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence, there is a gap in information on key principles from practice that are critical to effectively working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and reducing the incidence of family violence.
There is also a gap in understanding what these principles mean and how they can be realised for outcomes for children — a gap the Safe for Our Kids resource assists to help close.
The Senate committee has been given until 2 March 2015 to report on its inquiry, which is exploring the adequacy of policy responses and the effects of policy on housing, legal services and women’s economic independence on their ability to escape violence.
The committee will not be considering or examining any material that relates solely to personal cases or grievances.