• Members of the Tangentyere Womens Family Safety Group from Alice Springs want to be heard. (AAP)Source: AAP
Indigenous women's safety groups are welcoming the federal government's move to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory council to develop policy at the highest levels of government.
Sarah Collard

19 Apr 2021 - 4:19 PM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2021 - 4:19 PM

The Morrison government has allocated $1 million in the upcoming federal budget to establish an advisory group which will represent First Nations communities battling domestic violence. 

The current 12-year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children expires next year. 

Human rights lawyer and women's safety advocate, Dr Hannah McGlade told NITV News the announcement is a critical first step, saying Indigenous women, girls and children are facing unacceptable violence. 

"Aboriginal mothers in my state in Western Australia are statistically 17 and a half times more likely than non-Aboriginal mothers to be murdered," Dr McGlade told NITV news. 

"It's absolutely a pandemic. It's a tsunami," the Noongar woman said. 

Dr McGlade, who is also an expert member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, said it is vital Indigenous women's voices are prioritised in confronting the violence. 

"If we don't acknowledge it upfront at that national policy level, what chance have we got of tackling it?" she said. 

The Minister for Women's safety, Anne Ruston said she is committed to working with First Nations communities to bring down the rates of violence targeting women and girls. 

"I want to hear the voices of Indigenous women who have been victims of domestic violence. I want to hear the voices of those people who actually respond in these (Indigenous) communities to... domestic violence," Senator Anne Ruston told NITV News.

'We need to make sure that we have one national plan to address domestic, family violence and sexual violence across the whole of Australia for every Australian' 

The government said it is yet to decide on who will be on the advisory group but said it will be working with First Nations groups and community to ensure the advisory group has the right people. 

Indigenous women's safety advocates are calling for a standalone action plan to address violence against First Nations women and children, but that is something Senator Ruston ruled out.

"We need to make sure that we have one national plan to address domestic, family violence and sexual violence across the whole of Australia for every Australian." 

Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would hold a national summit in July, bringing together experts and community leaders to tackle family violence. 

Senator Ruston said Indigenous community leaders will be given an opportunity to have their say during the two-day talks. 

Dr McGlade said while discussions, reports and roundtables are important, tangible actions on the ground are still sorely lacking. 

"We need the political will to implement the recommendations... We need holistic response,  we need preventive responses and we need investment urgently into our communities." 


'We've battled by ourselves': Indigenous safety groups urge federal government to tackle family violence
First Nations women's safety groups are urging the minister for women's safety to meet with Indigenous women and remote communities - where women are experiencing some of the highest rates of violence in the country.