Three national peak bodies representing the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum (NFVPLS) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) – have collaborated to produce a joint policy paper on family violence response and prevention.
Strong Families, Safe Kids: Family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families was launched at the SNAICC Conference in Canberra last month at a joint panel between the three peak bodes.
This paper is intended to be a resource for policy makers, practitioners and researchers. The paper outlines the impact of family violence on our communities, the key factors behind why current policy and practice responses are failing, and a detailed pathway for achieving change.
SNAICC, NFVPLS and NATSILS hope to draw attention to the devastating impact family violence is having on our communities – causing social, cultural, spiritual, physical and economic harm.
The greatest direct impact of family violence is on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which leads our children to be especially vulnerable to the direct and indirect impacts of family violence – causing deep and lasting harm and contributing significantly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in Australia’s child protection systems.
Family violence is not a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Understanding family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities requires recognition of the intergenerational trauma that continues in our communities today – trauma that comes from dispossession of land and identity, the breaking down of language and culture, and the fracturing of families and communities.
At the heart of family violence lies both individual and communal grief, loss, disempowerment and trauma.
We believe that the central way to effectively break the cycle of violence is through community-driven, trauma-informed approaches to family violence that prioritise cultural healing and restore strength, dignity and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities..
Culture is a central and key protective factor that supports families to be free of violence.
Preventing and responding to family violence starts with a recognition of individual, family and community strengths. Approaches need to be holistic, integrated and working with the whole family and community. This includes tailored supports for all people: women, children and men. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control is essential; community-led strategies can ensure culturally safe and adapted responses that address inter-generational trauma and the complexities underlying violence in the context of each community.
This paper calls for whole of government reform to ensure that cultural healing – driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, built on trauma-informed practice and responsive to the diverse needs in different community contexts – is embedded in all elements of family violence response and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
SNAICC, NFVPLS and NATSILS would like to acknowledge all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations across Australia that provided submissions and papers to inform this statement.