‘Australia’s Aboriginie Women face higher rates of abuse’, Cathy Eatock


australia Cathy,Australia’s aboriginal female community experiences much higher rates of abuse than the rest of the population, says Cathy Eatock, a senior policy officer in state government.

Ms. Eatock, an aboriginie herself, spoke at a recent meeting at the United Nations on strategies for ending violence against women.

As an Aboriginal woman you are 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman.

Violence patterns are passed on from parents to their children. It takes police up to two years to respond to cases of domestic violence and take victims seriously.

angelina_and_babyIndigenous girls face the highest risk of being injured in an assault compared to any other group in Queensland, a study has found.

The study by the University of Queensland’s Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine found indigenous males were the next group most at risk assault-related injuries, followed by non-indigenous males and non-indigenous females.

The study found assault accounted for 10 per cent of all injuries to children under 12 months old, and that 60 per cent of infants with such injuries were girls.

Study author Professor Justin Kenardy said he hoped the findings could be used to direct preventative measures in areas with high levels of assault.

“We hope that these findings will lead to increased awareness of the high risk of assault-related injury in infants as well as adolescents,” he said.

“Any response should involve a preventative focus on reduction of violence in families and indigenous communities, and early intervention following traumatic injury.”

The study compared injury admissions data from 14 Queensland public hospitals on the Queensland Trauma.

By joining our efforts we can make sure that by 2030 any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child born in this country has the same opportunity as other Australian children to live a long, healthy and happy life.

womengraph1The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that by June 2010 there will be more than 282,400 Indigenous females living in Australia, accounting for 2.5% of the Australian female population. NSW and Qld are the jurisdictions with the highest numbers of Indigenous female residents, followed by WA and the NT (Figure 1).

Almost one-third of Indigenous people live in major cities (31%), 22% live in inner regional areas, 23% in outer regional areas, 8% in remote areas and 16% in very remote areas.

womengraph2The Indigenous female population is much younger overall than the non-Indigenous female population (Figure 2). The ABS projects that by the end of June 2011 almost half (45%) of Indigenous females will be aged less than 20 years, compared with 25% of the total female population. At June 2011, it is projected that only 4% of the total Indigenous female population will be aged 65 years or older, compared with 21% of non-Indigenous females.

Community and family violence

The 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), the most comprehensive source of information about violence in the Indigenous community, found that almost one-quarter (23%) of Indigenous females aged 15 years or older had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months (Figure 13).
The proportions of Indigenous people who had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months were higher for those:

  • who been removed from their natural families; and
  • who had experienced a high number of stressors.

womengraph14Assault was the most common cause of hospitalization for injury among Indigenous females during 2005-2006, with 33 times more admissions than the number expected from rates for non-Indigenous females.

Hospitalization rates for assaults from family violence were 35 times more common for Indigenous females living in Qld, WA, SA and NT in 2003-04 than for their non-Indigenous counterparts. For Indigenous females, one-half of hospitalizations for assault were as a consequence of family violence during this period.

Hospitalization rates for family-violence related assaults were highest among women aged 25-34 years.

The numbers of hospital admissions of Indigenous females living in Qld, WA, SA and NT in 2003-04 for family-violence assaults were much higher than the numbers expected from rates for their non-Indigenous counterparts across all perpetrator categories.

Domestic and family violence helplines – Take Action

New South Wales
DoCS Domestic Violence Line 1800 656 463 freecall, 24 hours.

Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, advice line: 02-8745 6999 (9.30am – 12.30pm, 1.30pm – 4.30pm, closed Wednesday afternoon).

Rape Crisis Centre 02 9819 6565, 24 hours.

Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre 02 9360 5388.

South Australia
Nunga Miminis Shelter 8223 2200, after hours, call Crisis Care on 13 1611 (Support and emergency accommodation for Aboriginal women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Service available 9AM-5PM Monday-Friday).

Australian Capital Territory
Domestic Violence Crisis Service 02 6280 0900.

The Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria (FVPLS Victoria) was established to provide assistance to victims of family violence and sexual assault and to work with families and communities affected by violence.

Call 1800 105 303 or visit their website.

I want to be free – A song about family violence

* This song was written by girls from Warburton High School and Primary School, Melbourne, Victoria and published in the Gordon Inquiry Report

If you want to be with me
Show me that you love me
Don’t get wild, don’t get jealous
Hey man be true to me
Don’t destroy my life, my spirit
I’m not a slave, I’m not a rag doll
To be toyed with by you

I want to be free
Free as a bird
But I’m still fighting for our freedom
Us women need to be strong inside to fly
We gotta stand up for our freedom

So be kind, treat me like a wife
Don’t lock me in the room
I don’t want to be suffocated
Don’t want to be punched or bashed by you
And if I say I don’t want to be with you
It’s time for you to leave
It’s time for you get out of my life
Don’t abuse my body please

I want to be free
Free as a bird
But I’m still fighting for our freedom
Us women need to be strong inside to fly
We gotta stand up for our freedom

“I am a firm believer that the answer to Indigenous problems can be found in Indigenous communities”. — Tom Calma, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
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