Women come together to end sexual violence
Australia in focus ⬿

Women come together to end sexual violence

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John Ahni Schertow
June 26, 2007
 

In Australia, a group of women came together and started a campaign to end sexual violence in their communities. They received no government funding, they made no threats against the entire community, there was no invasion or theft of land… There was just a group of women taking a leadership role in their community to end sexual violence. Their vision is spreading now, being realized through common effort…

In light of what Government is currently doing to Indigenous people, I want to say that this is work not so they can be called heroes. They do not seek awards or treats, congratulatory pay raises, or paid vacations. Nor do they seek to justify their incomes, or have private agendas that exploit the land and in turn violate the People socially, economically, culturally, linguistically, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

They do as they are because there is a need, and because there was no one else.. and they will continue working, continue empowering their people, and continue doing what is necessary. This is what community is about, this is what it means to be responsible.

Can you imagine, Government of Australia?

Ahni

From ANTaR – Think rugby league and you think big hits and hard tackles – but an award-winning campaign has used the ‘greatest game of all’ as the starting point to change community attitudes to violence.

To launch the ‘Blackout Violence’ program, players from 85 rugby league teams took to the field at the 2004 NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout wearing purple armbands to show their opposition to family violence and sexual assault against women.

Around 2,000 Blackout Violence kits were handed out to players and spectators throughout the four-day carnival, containing information on how to prevent violence and where to get help.

The rugby league knockout is the largest gathering of Aboriginal people in NSW so it was the perfect place to get the message out, said campaign organiser Dixie Link-Gordon.

“The message of Blackout Violence is simple: enough is enough. Family violence has no part in our culture. It’s not the Koori way and it needs to stop,” Ms Link-Gordon said.

“It’s a difficult issue to talk about and we’ve put it under the carpet for too long. But this campaign has allowed a large number of people to take an important message back to their own communities.” {…}

“Blackout Violence is all about us taking control of our actions and showing respect for each other and our communities. By doing this we can show the way for other communities around Australia – black and white,” he said.

The starting point for the state-wide campaign was a peaceful rally held by a number of women from Redfern’s ‘Block’, who came together to protest against the violent rape of a local woman. The rally drew more than 100 people and a co-ordinated grass-roots campaign soon followed.

The Blackout Violence program was set up and run without any government funding. However, its success has been recognised with the 2004 NSW Violence Against Women Prevention Award.

“The focus of the campaign has always been on community engagement and that’s why it been such a success,” said Blackout Violence partner, Christine Robinson, from the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre.

“From the start Indigenous men, women and children have all supported the program. They are determined to change how their community views and deals with issues like domestic violence.”

A training manual has been developed to support Indigenous communities address violence in all its forms – domestic violence, community violence and other forms of violence, such as bullying.

Success stories for Indigenous Health

contributed by Priscilla Brice-Weller, ANTaR

On 19th June, ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) launched their Success Stories in Indigenous health booklet. The booklet shows that Indigenous-led health care initiatives often get the best results. {the story above is one of several stories in it}

The booklet can be downloaded from the ANTaR website as a PDF (see www.antar.org.au/success). There is also an interactive map that shows the locations across Australia where the success stories originate from.

The stories demonstrate that progress in improving Indigenous health is achieved when there is significant engagement with the Indigenous communities concerned and appropriate funding and support provided.

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