Family violence is not restricted to Indigenous Australians

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Australian psychologists are concerned that there are racist undertones in much of the recent public discussion regarding child abuse and domestic violence in some indigenous communities.

‘We are very troubled by these reports, especially those from the Alice Springs and Darwin areas,’ said Australian Psychological Society President, Amanda Gordon. ‘No one can condone attacks on women or children under any circumstances.’

‘However, much of the media discussion has implied that this is a particular problem for indigenous Australians. In fact, we know that domestic violence and child abuse occur in all sections of Australian society, even if some people have been reluctant to acknowledge that,’ said Gordon.

Research has found that economic hardship is a risk factor for domestic violence, just as it is for illness. The high rates of unemployment in some indigenous communities must contribute to these and other adverse social problems in those communities. Australian psychologists working in indigenous communities can vouch for this.

Simplistic solutions like tougher law enforcement simply miss the point. Lasting improvement in the health and well-being of indigenous Australians requires multi-faceted, well-supported, and on-going interventions to provide the social, health, educational and economic infrastructures that are routinely expected in white communities.

International experience demonstrates that the problems that are seen in some indigenous communities are those that are seen in any conquered and dispossessed native people. Equally, international experience has shown that these problems can be addressed much more successfully than they have been so far in Australia.

‘What is required is genuine commitment from governments to working with indigenous Australians to develop wide-ranging solutions,’ said Gordon. ‘APS Psychologists would be delighted to consult to Government to assist in this process.’

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For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068