Reducing Family Violence in Very Remote Australia: The Cross Border Indigenous Family Violence Program

Stream: Understanding and Responding to Family, Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 1.00 pm – 2.45 pm


The Cross Border Indigenous Family Violence Program is a joint initiative of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia governments. Through a 54 hour group-work program, the Program aims to address family violence in the remote cross-border region of Central Australia. This vast and sparsely population region is the country of people from the Ngaatjatjarra, Pitjanjatjarra, Yanykunytjarra and Pintupi-Luritja language groups. Communities in the region experience high levels of disadvantage and, typically, high levels of family and intimate partner violence. A team of facilitators, based in the communities during the Program, work with cultural brokers to deliver the program to mandated and voluntary male participants. The program takes a multi-faceted approach to achieve enduring behaviour change. This paper will examine the challenges of addressing family and intimate partner violence in remote communities, using the findings of an evaluation conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology with the Australian National University. It will draw on participatory observation, feedback from participants and their spouses and data on reoffending outcomes. The presenters will discuss evidence for the effectiveness of this unique program, consider the need for a female-oriented intervention and explore issues around the sustainability of remote community programs and their outcomes.


Sarah Holcombe (Presenter), Australian National University
Social anthropologist Sarah Holcombe has conducted research relating to Indigenous Australians for over 20 years, half as applied anthropologist for the Central and Northern Land Councils in the Northern Territory. She undertook PhD research in the central Australian community of Mt Liebig. Her work covers a diverse range of projects at the Australian National University (ANU) principally through the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, including as Social Science Coordinator for the Desert Knowledge CRC. She is currently an ARC Future Fellow, examining “Global Indigenous Rights and Local Effect in Central Australia: Tracing Relations of Power and Locating Potentialities”

Matthew Willis (Presenter), Australian Institute of Criminology
Matthew Willis has been with the AIC for 10 years and is the Research Manager, Criminal Justice Monitoring and Analysis. His main research areas are crime, justice and community safety issues in Indigenous communities, correctional policy and practice and juvenile justice. His previous research with the Institute has included research projects examining Indigenous justice issues, homelessness amongst ex-prisoners, bushfire arson and federal offences. Matthew has operational management and policy experience with Australian and ACT government justice agencies and holds Masters degrees in Criminology and Correctional Management. He is also an adjunct University Fellow with the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University.