5 May 2015 | General Interest
Aboriginal Family Law Service (WA) has identified the need for a ribbon that can be symbolic to Aboriginal people who are survivors of domestic and family violence.
The ochre ribbon has been designed to symbolise unity within the Australian community, combating the significant issue of domestic violence against Aboriginal women and children through greater national awareness.
The Ochre Ribbon Campaign follows in the steps of the White Ribbon Foundation, the male-led campaign that aims to end men’s violence against women. On White Ribbon Day, 25 November, people in more than 60 countries show their support by wearing a white ribbon.
Aboriginal Family Law Service (WA) believe that by delivering the message that violence against Aboriginal women and children will not be tolerated the ochre ribbon campaign can strengthen the advances in domestic violence prevention made by other agencies across the globe.
Mary Cowley, CEO of Aboriginal Family Law Service (WA), says they have seen, first hand, the need for a culturally focused symbol.
“Earlier this year, in a rural Western Australian town, a woman died at the hands of her violent partner. Her family asked staff at the local Aboriginal Family Law Services (WA) office to assist with preparations for the memorial service; that included preparing the funeral programs and making white ribbons for attendees to wear – the white ribbons were to be given to attendees and worn as a statement opposing violence against women,” Ms Cowley said.
“This family’s tragedy – like so many others – suggest that a ribbon specifically symbolising violence against Aboriginal women and their children is needed to raise the national profile of the issue.”
A deliberate and considered approach was taken in designing the ochre ribbon, with the earthy colour representing land, and the brown lettering of the strong, clear mantra – don’t silence the violence – symbolising Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal Family Law Service (WA) considered many dates when searching for a day to observe such an important message, but found one date stood alone in its significance.
“Susan Taylor was a bright fifteen-year-old teenager who succumbed to the evil of others, and who ultimately took her own life to escape the impact of family violence and other social issues on February 12, 1999.”
It was this tragedy that lead Perth Children’s Court Magistrate Sue Gordon to lead an inquiry into the responses by government agencies into complaints of family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities.
“Susan Taylor was no different to many other children who sought escape from the endemic family violence and sexual abuse that occurred in Western Australian Aboriginal communities.”
Aboriginal Family Law Service (WA) is a member of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (NFVPLS), an association of organisations that aim to provide culturally inclusive and accessible legal assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country. It is hoped the campaign can be acknowledged with a registered National Ochre Ribbon Day, being promoted through the NFVPLS network of remote and rural locations around Australia.