May/June 2009 Volume 7, Issue 12

Special Forum: Looking at Family Violence


We open this edition of the ILB with a statement from Gawirrin Gumana, a Yolgnu elder currently facing the prospect of relocating his family from his traditional land under the NT Government’s Homelands policy. Dr Gumana provides us with a personal insight into the impacts of the trend towards centralised, rather than universal, service delivery for Indigenous communities.

This month we focus on the issue of family violence, examining some of the different ways in which communities and governments are addressing its corrosive influence. Shelley Burchfield and Antoinette Braybrook begin with an examination of the Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, stressing the importance of women’s voices in formulating and implementing appropriate measures, as well as practical suggestions to make existing services more accessible to Indigenous women.

Kyllie Cripps and Leanne Miller critique Victoria’s ten year plan, Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: Towards a Safer Future for Indigenous Families and Communities. On its one year anniversary, the authors evaluate progress made under the State strategy and make concrete suggestions to ensure better protection for victims of family violence.

Brian Steels and Dot Goulding examine Indigenous violence from a health perspective, analysing today’s violence against a background of hostile government policies, particularly forced separation of families.

Finally, Heman Lee interviews Louise Taylor, winner of this year’s ACT Women’s Award. A prosecutor at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and an active volunteer with different women’s organisations in Canberra, Louise shares her thoughts on violence, the intersection between ‘womens’ and ‘Indigenous’ rights and some of the ways that we can advance women’s role in society.

Moving on from family violence, Chris Charles examines the proposed cross-border legislation set to be introduced in SA, WA and NT, detailing the way in which the proposed regime will disproportionately impact upon Aboriginal people living in remote communities.

Adam McLean closes this edition with a discussion of some of the difficulties slowing down the current native title process. Adam argues that, while change is necessary, it need not come in the form of an amendment to the Native Title Act. Instead we ought to focus on establishing comprehensive framework agreements that encourage effective, good faith negotiations between affected parties.

Zrinka Lemezina

Special Forum: Looking at Family Violence

Statement from Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO

Improving Law and Justice Outcomes for Indigenous Women and Children
By Shelley Burchfield and Antoinette Braybrook

Mutant Messages 2: Victoria’s Indigenous Family Violence Plan
By Kyllie Cripps and Leanne Miller

When it’s a Question of Social Health and Well-Being, the Answer is not Prison
By Brian Steels and Dot Goulding

An Interview with Louise Taylor
By Heman lee

The National Cross-Border Justice Scheme
By Chris Charles

Frameworks to Settling Native Title
By Adam McLean

Archives of the ILB from Volume 1, Issue 1 (1981) to 6 (27) 2007 are available online at and

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