MEDIA RELEASE - 24.09.15

Domestic violence package welcome, but missed opportunity to prioritise essential legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's safety.


The Change the Record Coalition today welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull's announcement of $100 million of funding targeted at addressing family and domestic violence, but expressed disappointment that the package fails to prioritise essential legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s safety.

Coalition Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “Whilst we welcome the Prime Minister’s strong commitment to tackling the crisis of domestic violence in this country, we are concerned that the package does not include a focus on improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to critical frontline legal services”

“Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence related assault, and almost 11 times more likely to die from violent assault than non-Indigenous women. Aboriginal women are also one of the most legally disadvantaged groups in Australia."

"This highlights that there is an ongoing critical need for culturally competent legal assistance services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by domestic violence. The Family Violence Prevention Legal Services are essential to meeting such demand,” said Mr Duffy.

Despite the generous package announced today, there is no inclusion of funding for Family Violence and Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) – which provide specialist and culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. In addition, the package does not include funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) which also provides critical frontline legal assistance services in response to family and domestic violence.

Fellow Co-Chair Kirstie Parker said, “Failing to provide adequate and sustained funding for services will have a devastating impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children’s access to justice whilst they are trying to escape violence”.

"Real action to tackle this crisis requires more than a one-off funding announcement. We need all levels of government to commit to working together to ensure long-term funding for the services that support women when they are escaping violence, and which prevent abuse from occurring at all.  Building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services must be a priority".

"We support calls from the National FVPLS Forum, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), and others for the Prime Minister to urgently meet with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and community-controlled services to discuss the national crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence" said Ms Parker.


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The ‘Change the Record’ Coalition is a group of leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, community and human rights organisations working collaboratively to address the disproportionate rates of incarceration and violence experienced by Indigenous Australians. 

The Change the Record Coalition has identified two goals:

  • Close the gap in rates of imprisonment by 2040; and
  • Cut the disproportionate rates of violence to at least close the gap by 2040 with priority strategies for women and children.

The Coalition calling for greater investment in early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies. These are smarter solutions that increase safety, address the root causes of violence against women, cut reoffending and imprisonment rates, and build stronger and safer communities. 

To find out more about Change the Record please go to: www.changetherecord.org.au

 

Media Contacts:

  • General contact: Shannon Longhurst, phone 0409 711 061
  • Media contact for Kirstie Parker: Mahala Strohfeldt, phone 0457 877 408