Plan needed for Aboriginal women's safety

·2-min read

Violence against Indigenous women and their children is an "absolute disgusting state of affairs", with Aboriginal leaders calling for a tailored plan to help make their communities safer.

Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service principal legal officer Thelma Schwartz says the voices of Indigenous women and children have been silenced.

"It is absolutely unacceptable given the absolute disgusting state of affairs that we're currently facing in this great democratic country of Australia," she told a national women's safety summit on Tuesday.

"Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children is a national crisis, it is a national shame, it is beyond disgusting.

"I refuse to be used or seen as a tick and flick measure."

The two-day summit will be used to inform the next 12-year national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.

Ms Schwartz wants a standalone plan for Indigenous women because a "one size fits all" approach doesn't work in regional and remote communities.

"One size does not fit all. One size, I think and I believe, sets us all up to fail," she told the panel on preventing and responding to sexual violence.

She also wants Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to be funded adequately.

"How is that acceptable that every year ... family violence prevention legal services go cap in hand begging to provide essential services," Ms Schwartz said.

Indigenous women are 45 times more likely to be victims of violence.

They are also 32 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence and 10 times times more likely to die from assault.

"At the heart of what I'm trying to get at here is preventing violence is a fundamental baseline human right priority. It's everybody's business," Ms Schwartz said.

Young children sexually assaulted in remote parts of the country were forced to wait days "untouched, un-showered" while paediatric specialists were flown in to conduct an examination.

When young people turned to 1800 helplines, they were often left on hold or couldn't get through.

"We can have these wonderful media campaigns - and I think that's fantastic to raise awareness - but if a service isn't accessible, how's it working?"

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

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