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Taking a Shortcut Through the Long Grass

The 2016 Grace Vaughan Memorial lecture by Dorinda Cox, Project Officer, Keeping Kids Safe Project, Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA and Managing Director of the Inspire Change Consulting Group.

Dorinda CoxViolence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence — yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 2007

While there is a good evidence base to prevent and reduce violence, prevention responses, strategies and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia remain largely undeveloped and we still have the alarming statistic that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 35 times more likely to be victims than other any other women in Australia. To effect change we must contextualise the experiences of Aboriginal women with both the historical and contemporary factors that enable gender based violence to continue to this magnitude and within such a small minority group. This presentation explored some of the questions for this issue in Australia. Was taking that shortcut through the long grass worth it, and where did that lead us? Did it contribute to the risk factors for violence that exist, and were internalised oppressive systems that feed violence created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? 

Do we continue define it as ‘their problem’ and not ours without any thought for fixing the root causes or finding an alternate route to solve this endemic problem?

Dorinda Cox is an Aboriginal (Noongar) woman from the South West region of WA. She is a Project Officer for the Keeping Kids Safe Project at the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA and is the Managing Director of the Inspire Change Consulting Group. Dorinda has over 20 years experience working in government and non-government sectors at Local, State and National levels.

Dorinda holds a number of advocacy and advisiory roles. She is a member of the Victims of Crime Advisory Group to the Attorney General WA and a member of the Advisory Committee on Child Death Reviews for the State Ombudsman.

The Grace Vaughan Memorial Lecture

This annual lecture commemorates the life and achievements of Grace Vaughan, a social worker, social activist and parliamentarian, who was dedicated to the improvement of life at all levels and had a deep commitment to Australia’s participation in the Asian region and to ensuring women’s full participation in society. The lecture was presented by the Australian Association of Social Workers, the Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Western Australia and Department of Local Government and Communities Western Australia.