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31 May 2001

Partnerships Against Domestic Violence

Partnerships Against Domestic Violence, Walking Into Doors Tour visits the Ridge

Elders Aunty Rose Fernando and June Barker welcome visitors and guests to the Walking Into Doors Forum

"So my brother don’t hurt her anymore, she’s got her lore and you’ve got yours and she’s sick and tired of walking into doors!"

Local Aboriginal elders June Barker and Aunty Rose Fernando welcomed those attending the Lightning Ridge Walking into Doors Forum.

Respected indigenous presenters, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, were part of the panel whose aim it was to create awareness of both the problems and services available to offer assistance in matters concerning domestic violence in Aboriginal communities.

Archie Roach encouraged listeners to rise above their circumstances, to be open and talk about the problems that existed, and at the same time focus upon their ability and talents.

In 1999 ATSIC identified the Walgett area as having a high percentage of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

An allocation of $500,000 was made to provide legal services for female victims of violence and a further $2m for families who were victims of violence.

It was necessary to address both the short and long term needs of the community.

The forum identified the advantage of recruiting a female Aboriginal police officer. Confidence to approach and speak out were the determining factors.

Services available within Walgett shire were highlighted including the Aboriginal Medical Service Womens Support Group, Women Out West and grief packages available to Aboriginals.

Walking into Doors is a national, awareness-raising campaign focusing on the issue of domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities. The primary aim of this campaign is to get Aboriginal communities talking about this important issue at a national, state/territory and local level.

Walking into Doors is a project funded by the Office of Status of Women as part of Partnerships Against Domestic Violence.

The overall aim of this project is to contribute to the cessation of family and domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. They hope to achieve this by raising awareness about the various factors that contribute to domestic violence in Indigenous communities, and by discussing ways in which such behaviours can be addressed.

In a working alliance with communities the project seeks to:
*promote messages that demonstrate the unacceptability and damaging effects of family and domestic violence; and
*develop and implement sustainable resources that can continue to be used after the conclusion of the project.

As such, individuals and communities alike will be encouraged to take action themselves to prevent domestic and family violence.

The overall objectives of the project are:
*To promote community discussion and understanding of the impact of family violence on the well-being of communities and families, and in particular, children.
*To identify and promote community approaches to address and prevent family violence from occurring.
*To promote community discussion on measures to prevent family violence.
*To increase knowledge abut sources of assistance for individuals, families and communities experiencing family violence.

The backbone of the campaign will be a series of community forums with Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, who are already advocates against domestic violence, being the core of these forums.

Having Archie and Ruby, who are two strong, and well-respected figures in the Aboriginal community, to speak and sing at the forums, will encourage communities to talk openly and honestly.

Archie and Ruby talked about their lives and their personal views on issues surrounding domestic violence.

Key people, working locally in domestic violence, such as those running
*Aboriginal crisis centres,
*Aboriginal counselling services, and
*Men’s, women’s and youth groups

were invited to attend and join Archie and Ruby on stage to explain what their particular service was and how it can best be accessed by Aboriginal people.

All local community members were invited to attend these forums to listen and to talk about these issues and what they believe is the best way of tackling family and domestic violence in their community.

The forums will be professionally facilitated by an experienced Aboriginal facilitator, and aim to be the first step in an ongoing relationship between the Walking into Doors program and the local Aboriginal community.

The forums want to be able to leave each community with a number of tangibles that they can then use on an ongoing basis.

These include a local advocate willing to be a spokesperson and coordinator of activities; a resource that can be provided to women, men and young people who need help; and information about services that can help people caught in the cycle of domestic violence.

The Walking into Doors community forum at Lightning Ridge was a lunchtime community gathering, open to anyone in the Aboriginal community.

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