Leading academic and Indigenous leader Professor Marcia Langton has said First Nations communities need their own plans to reduce violence against women, and that the current national plan “does not work for us”.
Speaking at a panel session at the National Summit on Women’s Safety on Monday, Professor Langton supported calls made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance chief executive, Sandra Creamer, who said there needs to be a separate plan for Indigenous women and children.
“The national plan does not work for us,” Professor Langton said.
“Let me be very clear about this. Nobody listens to us. They talk over the top of us and tell us what we’re going to have in our communities.”
“No one listens to the women in the communities, the women in the towns, the women in the suburbs who have to deal with all the young women, and older women and children fleeing from violence.”
Professor Langton said women’s safety programs have become “a bit of an industry” and it results in First Nations women being ignored. Community-led solutions are needed in order to improve outcomes for First Nations women and children.
“If you go to a typical country town, what you’ll see is the main services are all run by white people and all the Aboriginal leaders are marginalised,” she said. “They not even invited to the table.”
“We absolutely need our own Indigenous plan for ending violence against women and children and we absolutely need local and regional initiatives joined up with all the mainstream services, our representatives at the table, designing the local interventions and stopping the stupidity that goes on in the institutional environment when people think they are doing the right thing to us, not with us, they make terrible mistakes and lives are at stake.”
Professor Langton pressed the point that women’s lives are being lost because Indigenous people are not being listened to, or included in decision-making.
“I mean this. Lives are at stake. Lives are being lost because people who think they know better than us will not listen to us and will not act on our advice,” she said.
June Oscar was also clear that a separate, additional plan is needed for First Nations women.
“It is clear from everything said today, Indigenous women require a standalone plan,” Oscar said “We treat women as if they are homogenous, the same and that has got to end.”
Incredibly powerful panel on the #WomensSafteySummit with @fi_cornforth @MarciaLangton @SandraCreamer @EdMosby. Its time we act on First Nations women and girls led solutions. Including having our own First Nations women and girls National Action Plan, as recommended in #WYUT— June Oscar (@June_Oscar) September 6, 2021
The National Summit on Women’s Safety, held this week, will help inform the next national action plan to reduce violence against women and children.