Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of violence

  • Providing the right support means understanding the causes and effects of violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • It is important to understand the past and current experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as the needs of the person you are supporting
  • Remember that domestic and family violence is not always caused by an intimate partner but can also come from other family members and the extended community.

Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Domestic and family violence happens in Australia across all communities. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities domestic and family violence happens at higher rates than in non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Understanding why this is the case helps support services to better meet the needs of people affected by family violence.

Issues contributing to violence

Increased violence is common in communities where there is a history of disadvantage and oppression. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities this is made worse by forced separation from land and culture. These things can lead to conflict in family relationships, racism, ongoing poverty and limited housing.

From 1910 into the 1970s a government policy forced the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. At times as many as one in three children were forcibly removed from their families and communities. The trauma from this policy still affects people today and contributes to the way that violence is experienced in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In addition to this trauma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are much more likely to suffer from economic and social disadvantage. This can cause feelings of anger, frustration, helplessness and unhappiness. It can also lead to alcohol and drug use as a way of coping, which may cause or worsen mental illness. All of these things can contribute to create a setting of violence, including domestic and family violence, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The 'Our Watch' paper 'Reporting on Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities' includes statistices cited in this conent and provides an introduction to the issue of reporting on family violence. The paper is available for viewing and download below.

Our Watch: Reporting on family violence

The 'Our Watch' paper 'Reporting on Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities' includes statistics cited in this content and provides an introduction to the issue of reporting on family violence.