The former Australian of the year Rosie Batty has spent several days in the remote north of Western Australia to share her own story of family violence with Aboriginal women, telling them: “We feel the same pain.”
Batty’s son, Luke, was murdered in 2014 by his father and Batty’s ex-partner, Greg Anderson.
Batty told a group of women gathered at a women’s shelter at the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, that she didn’t have the answers to address the disproportionally high rates of family violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
“I don’t come here telling people what I think they should do,” she told ABC news.
“I think I want to come here because I want them to know they are not alone and that there are women like me, white, privileged, living in a fancy house in a big city, and we feel the same pain. And I do feel that as women become empowered in their communities, they are the ones that bring things together.
“How can we work together? Because that’s what women do well. We share our stories, we share our pain. We look for solutions to help each other.”
A 2015 Senate inquiry heard that Indigenous women are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence related assaults than other women. Findings from the national homicide monitoring program of the Australian Institute of Criminology state that more than half of Indigenous homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide, of which the most common subcategory was intimate partner homicide.
It is not the first time Batty has visited Aboriginal communities. She has previously visited communities in the Northern Territory, including the Tiwi Islands near Darwin.
In her outgoing Australian of the Year address, Batty highlighted the impact of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are 35% more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence.
Kimberley MP and Gidja woman Josie Farrer said that, while she wasn’t aware of Batty’s visit to Western Australia, rates of Aboriginal family violence were “certainly very high”.
• If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
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