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Young Aboriginal and Torres Islander women aged between 13 and18 who have experienced physical violence

University Affiliation

What research shows about impact and effect of family violence?

Family violence among the indigenous communities is associated with various negativities. Notably, family violence is vastly blamed for its effect in the level of morbidity and mortality. The entire community is forced to divert useful resources to unnecessary areas because active human power is lost due to deaths (Pearson, 2001 p. 127). In addition, the communities and various government agencies incur huge costs for hospitalization and implementation of community programs. Apart from society-based effects, personal effects of family violence are also manifest. Children who are exposed to violence have increased probability of developmental delays, behavioral difficulties and mental health problems. Young women who encounter family violence have increased risk of unplanned pregnancy, abortion or miscarriage. It has been pinpointed by several researchers that women who are assaulted during pregnancy period have increased risk of various complications, which affect their pregnancy and the baby’s health.

Victims of family violence are exposed to far-reaching repercussions, which may alter their lives. Young women who are exposed to family violence tend to have altered perception of the society. Coercive force is associated with physical, emotional, psychological and social damage that greatly harms the society. It has been noted that adult women who have lived with an abusive partner have greater risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and diminishing psychological wellbeing. Besides, exposure to family violence greatly affects health status of an individual leading to increased demand for health services (George, 2004 p. 78).

Family violence plays a negative role of imparting negative culture in the society. Being born in a family or community where family violence is common means that an individual will perceive the act as ‘normal’. However, family violence is an illegal undertaking because it breaches the core aspects of human rights. Those who are raised in communities where family violence is rampant risk developing into lawless, self-centered and irrational persons.

Difficulties faced in dealing with family violence within the group

In rural areas, the main obstacle towards dealing with family violence is unreported cases. Many girls and women fail to report incidences of family violence. In some communities, family violence was deeply engrained that women thought that the undertaking was part of life. Even when they visit health centers for medication, reporting violent incidences is inhibited because health professionals are bound by the rule of privacy and confidentiality. Anything that victims reveal to health care professionals is treated as confidential, thus the information is not likely to reach to law enforcement agencies. In addition, various societal structures, such as traditions, cultures and societal-structures greatly inhibit individuals from rejecting such vices (Leonard, 2010 p. 92).

High level of illiteracy within the group presents immense challenge to efforts made in a bid to eradicate family violence. Many women and children are unaware of various facilities that are offered for them, including social support services, legal services and welfare services. Past societal and governance structures created a bad precedence because services that were offered were not culturally sensitive. In that case, many women fail to report their cases because experience with service providers and authorities made them feel uncomfortable or inhibited trust. Because of ignorance and poor social and governance structures, many women are forced to rely on the same persons who are causing violence.

Barriers experienced by the group in accessing services

In rural areas, various barriers are experienced when accessing services. Societal aspects, such as marginalization, dispossession, poverty and racism contribute immensely to difficulties in accessing services. Victims experience challenges because of limited access to police in rural areas, meaning that it might be impossible for them to obtain legal help. Remoteness of the region is greatly blamed for poor access to available services. Remoteness inhibits reachability of services offered by health workers, dentists, doctors and law enforcement authorities within the region. Because of remoteness of the region, necessary services are insufficient because of high cost involved and time taken while waiting for services.

Transport is one of the major problems experienced by the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people. People living within the Torres Strait Indigenous region have no public transport available in their area. Thus, emergency cases arising due to family violence may not be handled leading to numerous deaths. Service providers find it a huge challenge to reach to target groups because of transport challenges (Marcus & Braff, 2007 p. 34). Even if health and law enforcement workers are equipped with their transport facilities, road network in the indigenous regions is still a huge challenge.

Telecommunication is another great barrier towards accessing health and other services. In indigenous regions, telecommunication services are mostly unavailable, meaning that contacting services providers may be impossible. Lack of communication between service providers and target population presents an immense barrier.

How the group got their needs recognized on public agenda

The topic was first recognized as instrumental to national agenda when numerous studies revealed that many women are exposed to great deal of suffering because of family violence. Many researchers pointed out that adolescent girls and young women are the most affected groups. For instance, in 2005, personal safety survey conducted in Canberra revealed that women between the ages of 18 to 24 were the most affected due to family violence (Edward, 2006 p. 10).

Human rights group in Australia also played a fundamental role in highlighting plight facing women and children in indigenous communities. Normally, human rights groups have themes and objectives whose actions are based. In the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report, mistreatment of Aboriginal women and children in Torres Strait and Islander populations was noted as a noteworthy problem (Loren, 2011). Effort of various human rights groups tied family violence to various societal challenges, such as homelessness, illiteracy, breach of constitutional provisions, laxity in applying legal provisions, health care problems and ancient traditions. Because of efforts made by human rights groups, the government acted by enacting many policies and programs in a bid to eliminate the problem.

Policies and programs that have been devised to assist the group

Various programs have been initiated including those that indigenous communities have developed. Various programs have been created to assist in reducing alcohol and drug use, enhancing family relationships, formulating community kinship system, incorporating customary law into societal norms, educational initiatives and expanding police operations. The country created a national policy that was expected to start operation in 2010. The policy sought to build a strong foundation for achieving wide-range strategies. It was realized that initial policies and programs that were applied led to other challenges. For instance, in an attempt to assist victims, social workers had to separate them from their families leading to homelessness and lack of self-sufficiency. Thus, new policies were designed to solve the problem using a multifaceted approach. New programs called for involvement of all members of community and cooperation among all service providers. Such programs are policies were meant to address family cohesion, reduction of drug abuse, strengthening of cultural identity, reconstruction of family structures and spiritual, cultural and emotional wellbeing of victims.

In Mildura, a program named ‘Meminar Ngangg Gimba,’ meaning women who dwell here, was launched to assist women and children of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander origin who are escaping family violence. The program accessed financial aid from the Department of human Services and was closely linked with state-wide Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group (Mitchell, 2011 p. 45). The government, in association with human rights agencies, formulated an Indigenous Family Violence plan named ‘strong culture, strong peoples, strong families’, which was expected to run for 10 years since the year 2011.

Recommended policy or practice

First, government commitment must be transformed into action. In the past, government has been making numerous commitments to address the issue. However, the main challenge lies in realizing influence of government commitment. Second, the indigenous population should be encouraged to take part in formulating and implementing various programs and policies to guarantee that they are culturally acceptable. Third, efforts must be made to support already existing community initiatives and networks. Indigenous community initiatives and networks require immense support, especially in terms of educational tools to help in recognizing and handling family violence. Fourth, human rights education is highly needed among the indigenous communities. Family violence, together with numerous unreported cases results from ignorance concerning personal rights and privileges. It is important to work with the communities and pass out a strong message that family violence will not be tolerated. Fifth, it is vital to avoid labeling indigenous men as abusers. Notably, family violence is purely a matter of gender inequality (Drabsch, 2007 p. 17). Thus, the issue can only be solved by supporting women education and empowerment so that strong leadership can be achieved among women. Other strategies that can be applied include ensuring accountability and monitoring mechanisms, looking for changes and celebrating victories, changing mindset of community members, targeting of needs and re-asserting cultural norms to achieve mutual respect in communities.

Why it is crucial that the recommendations be implemented

It is important to implement recommended strategies because research has shown that family violence has led to untold suffering among the indigenous communities. Many lives have been lost owing to family violence, meaning that community is losing its precious human resources through means that could have been easily preventable. Besides, family violence is associated with numerous negativities, including damage of physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals (Carrington & Phillips, 2006 p. 23). Studies have publicized that adult women who encountered abusive relationship with their spouses demand health care services that other women. Ideally, the research indicates that society is forced to divert its scarce financial resources in provision of health care services to women who encounter family violence. If such incidences are handled, then society can effectively manage its resources by diverting them to profitable areas.

Family violence destroys cohesion and integration within families (Karen, 2012). When women flee their homes because of family violence, they are forced to experience homelessness and separation from other members of family. Children who flee with their mothers also experience untold suffering and disruption of developmental activities, such as education. Family violence is also associated with breeding the culture of lawlessness, especially among youngsters who are brought up in abusive families.


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Karen, M. (2012). Noelene’s Story. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/local/videos/2012/06/23/3531839.htm

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