Family Violence and Sexual Assault in Indigenous Communities: challenges and intersectoral responses

Stream: Intersectionality in Practice: how can we ensure that research in the gendered violence field takes into account multiple levels of social inequality and injustice?
Date: Thursday, 12 February 2015
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


In recent times, we have seen the closure of remote Aboriginal communities and an escalation of violence among families that has seen an intensification of the impacts of family violence across the lifetime. There are increasing concerns about the impact of family violence on future generations, and family violence has been named as the issue of most concern for women and children in our communities. Family violence and sexual assault continues to be at crisis levels in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and services in communities are often not equipped to deal with the volume and intensity of violence on their own, however, there is an increasingly intersectoral response to addressing family violence, often coordinated through public offices and campaigners with 'buy in' on the ground. In response to calls from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for change, a number of state and territory governments established Task Forces, drafted policy documents, and held inquiries into the nature and extent of the violence and in Victoria we have established the first ever Commissioner for Aboriginal Children. This presentation provides an overview of the key issues and findings from recent reports and research into family violence and sexual assault in Indigenous communities, and identifies some ways that are currently underway to address gender violence across the lifetime in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.


Kerry Arabena (Presenter), Professor, and Chair of Indigenous Health, University of Melbourne
Professor Kerry Arabena is a Social Worker with a Doctorate in Human Ecology and an extensive background in sexual health, reproductive health, public health, remote area health service administration and community development, and current research projects across sexual and reproductive health, health equity, community engagement and health service reform. In January 2013, Kerry was appointed Chair for Indigenous Health and Director of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit at the University of Melbourne, and is a current Director of Indigenous Community Volunteers. Kerry was previously Professor and Director of Indigenous Health Research in the School for Indigenous Health, Monash University and the Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equity Council (2013 - 2014). She was inaugural Chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, a national Indigenous representative body established in 2010. Kerry Arabena is a descendent of the Merriam people from the Torres Strait. She has represented Australia in international forums on HIV/AIDS and climate change. Her professional experience has seen her recognised as an Australian of the Year Finalist in 2010 and a recipient of the prestigious JG Crawford Prize for Academic Excellence at Australian National University in 2011.