• Antoinette Braybrook - Convenor National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Key advocates for Indigenous women's safety are again calling for fast reforms following a round table with Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer.
Rachael Hocking

2 Mar 2019 - 11:50 PM  UPDATED 5 Mar 2019 - 6:04 PM

Women working in frontline services across the country will be watching the government closely for any Aboriginal women's safety policy announcements in the lead up to the May election.  

Fourteen women working in Aboriginal Legal Services, family violence prevention groups and children's services were given a seat at the table with Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt to discuss Aboriginal women's safety on Thursday. 

They called for a National Plan dedicated to addressing the disproportionate rates of family violence experienced by Indigenous women, and long-term funding to be awarded to Aboriginal community controlled organisations. 

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services CEO, Cheryl Axleby, said such a plan would need to take into account housing and the needs of children.

"Many women are on remand due to a lack of housing," Ms Axelby said.

"The Government must move away from punitive approaches to welfare like CDP and ParentsNext, which are punishing and criminalising our people for being poor."

The head of Australia's peak body for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Antoinette Braybrook, told NITV News while there was "good faith" in the room, it needed to be followed through with strong action from the government. 

"We're often talking about how invisible we are in the space when it comes to women's safety and how often overlooked we are when funding opportunities arrive," she said.

"For example, that last Women's Safety Package money, there was no funding at all that came to the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services and there was a lot of funding that landed with mainstream services." 

Concerns were also raised about the recent Close the Gap refresh discussions which separated family violence and child protection targets. 

“Many of the women we represent for child protection cases relate to family violence," Ms Axleby said.

"The family court system needs a specialised list for Aboriginal women and Aboriginal Family Court Liaison Officers. Yet in the proposed Closing the Gap targets, there’s a choice between child protection and family violence targets. We need both."

Ms Axleby emphasised that removing children from communities is not a solution because it "further traumatises communities". 

The women say the reforms are a matter of urgency. They're being pushed ahead of an expected announcement from the government relating to Aboriginal women's safety in the coming weeks. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence.

Earlier this week ABC's Four Corners broadcast an investigation into the high incarceration rates of women, which revealed that up to 90 per cent of women imprisoned around the country have been victims of sexual and domestic violence. Aboriginal women represent the fasted growing prison population. 

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