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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

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RESEARCH REPORT

Understanding the role of Law and Culture in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to and preventing family violence

This project explored the role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law and Culture plays in prevention, intervention and healing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence, and how this can be supported.

This study involved:

  • a review of criminological and legal literature, policy, and practice in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law and Culture and family violence (with priority given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars, organisations, and respected community members)
  • place-based interviews and yarning groups in sites across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

The qualitative research was local, place-based, and embedded in communities. The team formed partnerships with key Aboriginal community organisations in each region. The focus, identified in discussions with partner communities, was on aspects of Law and Culture that promote social integration and offer pathways towards greater community safety and healing.

The research revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law and Culture are features of everyday life in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, although the mainstream legal system and forms of governance undermine their practice.

Given the central role that trauma plays in the perpetration of family violence, the report stresses the importance of healing in addressing family violence. The report recommends a greater focus on prevention, healing and diversion from the criminal legal system. It recommends an improved understanding within mainstream systems and services of the nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family obligations and interconnections, and the involvement of both men and women in the design and implementation of local family violence strategies. Overall, it highlights that policy and service responses are most effective when they acknowledge the link between violence and issues that stem from colonisation such as alcohol misuse and intergenerational trauma, rather than focusing solely on gender inequality and male power.

 

 

Publication details

This work is part of the ANROWS Research reports series. ANROWS Research reports (Horizons) are in-depth reports on empirical research produced under ANROWS’s research program.


Authors

PROFESSOR HARRY BLAGG
Law School, The University of Western Australia

DR TAMARA TULICH
Law School, The University of Western Australia

PROFESSOR VICTORIA HOVANE (NGARLUMA, JARU AND GOONIYANDI)
Adjunct, Law School, The University of Western Australia

DONELLA RAYE (JABIRR JABIRR AND BARDI)
Aboriginal Researcher

TEEJAY WORRIGAL (GOONIYANDI AND GIJA)
Aboriginal researcher

MRS SUZIE MAY
Law School, University of Western Australia


ISBN: 978-1-925925-51-7 (print) | 978-1-925925-52-4 (online)

96 pp.

 

Suggested citation

Blagg, H., Tulich, T., Hovane, V., Raye, D., Worrigal, T., & May, S. (2020). Understanding the role of Law and Culture in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to and preventing family violence, Ngarluma/Jaru/Gooniyandi (Hovane), Kimberley and Pilbara region, WA, Jabirr Jabirr/Bardi (Raye), Dampier Peninsula and Kimberley region, WA, Gooniyandi/Gija (Worrigal), Kimberley region, WA (Research report, 19/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.

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