Debunking: You can’t talk about violence in Aboriginal communities

15 Feb 2019

Earlier this week the PM made reference to the abuse of Aboriginal children and immediately followed it up by saying ‘we’re told we shouldn’t talk about it’.

Earlier this week the PM made reference to the abuse of Aboriginal children and immediately followed it up by saying ‘we’re told we shouldn’t talk about it’.

More accurately though, we’re told that we’re told that we shouldn’t talk about it, but no one is actually saying we shouldn’t talk about it.

We are told that any non-Indigenous person who dares to talk about abuse will be labelled racist, that Aboriginal people across the country are involved in a grand cover up of abuse. We are told that abuse is a ‘cultural thing’.

There are a few notable examples and circumstances where individuals have been told they shouldn’t talk, but those have not been because they ‘bravely dared to face the PC brigade and tackle a difficult topic’ but instead because they were talking nonsense. Here’s some examples of where people probably shouldn’t have talked about it:

  • If you’re an advisor to the minister of Indigenous Affairs going on a respected national news show lying about being a youth worker with personal knowledge of pedophile rings that later turns out to have not been true so you can help the government justify implementing overtly racist Emergency response legislation.
  • If you’re a brekkie tv show host claiming that tens of thousands of people you don’t know who are marching in the streets of Sydney aren’t doing enough for communities in the NT so that you can dismiss the reasons they are marching in the streets in the first place.
  • If you’re a politician, shock jock or talking head using it as a form of whataboutism to claim there are more important things to talk about, yet you yourself never seem to ever actually talk about those issues except when claiming that other people shouldn’t be taking about other issues. It’s important to note that these people have readily available media platforms they can access so could actually go on to talk about DV and abuse whenever they wanted to, but for some reason only ever choose to bring it up in that specific context.
  • If you’re a government using a detailed report on child abuse to justify sending in the literal army, performing a massive land grab, attempting to shut down remote communities, and enforcing any number of racist and punitive policies that in no way shape or form were aimed at reducing child abuse – and that after more than a decade has failed miserably to do so, largely because you ignored all the actual recommendations of said report that were aimed at reducing rates of child abuse and family violence.
  • If you’re a rightwing Indigenous commentator who gets trotted out by Sky once every so often to validate white racism commentators, even though you spend far more time talking about how leftwing Aboriginal people don’t spend enough time talking about violence in Aboriginal communities than you spend actually talking about solutions to violence in Aboriginal communities.
  • If you’re online randomly trolling Aboriginal men to accuse them of abusing their partners and children, whether or not they even have partners or children.

If you’re not in those categories, or similar ones, then you probably won’t face much backlash for raising issues of violence and abuse.

In fact, there’s lots of Aboriginal people (predominately women) and organisations who are fighting to have their voices heard above the fray hoping to raise awareness, inform policies and funding structures, and help ensure that when people do talk about these issues they do so respectfully and in ways that contribute to solutions rather than simply inciting racism or engaging in whataboutism.

So if you’re planning to engage in these conversations, especially in the media, then it makes sense that your conversation be informed by these voices, or better yet that the conversation be led by them.

IndigenousX has published a number of articles about issues of domestic violence and abuse in the past and we are yet to have any backlash for doing so, except for a few trolls as mentioned above. The reason for this is that when we do publish articles about it they are from Indigenous people who either research the topic in-depth, work on the ground, have lived experience, or all of the above.

This week it is Ochre Ribbon Week Ochre Ribbon Week, an initiative supported by the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum and its member organisations across Australia.

This week it is Ochre Ribbon Week, an initiative supported by the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum (now known as Djirra) and its member organisations across Australia.

The Ochre Ribbon Campaign raises awareness of the devastating impacts of family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and calls for action to end the violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – especially women and children.

You can learn more about that by following @IndigenousX this week, or by going to

So if ever there was a time to talk about these issues this week is it. But please, if you’re going to do that, try to amplify the voices of those affected, those with solutions, and those doing the work rather than using it to score cheap political points, incite racism, abrogate government responsibility for sensible and effective policies and funding regimes, or for any reason other than trying to bring about better outcomes.

It’s too important an issue for people to remain silent on, but it’s also too important an issue to be reduced to a point scoring match.

To help with this we are including a list of links, taken from a thread posted by @utopiana on Twitter, to orgs which you can support if you would like to donate to them or learn more about them. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so feel free to look for local ones in your area.

Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group


Hey Sis

Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation SA

Kimberly Community Legal Service

NPY Women’s Council

Alice Springs Women’s Shelter

Tennant Creek Women’s Refuge

Indigenous Women’s Legal Program


Kalumburu Strong Women’s Centre

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