Evidence has shown that Aboriginal women are particularly reluctant to report family violence and sexual assaults in their relationships. The fear of the system combined with community stigma make it difficult to implement early community intervention. There is often a lack of communication, and when violence happens we don’t talk about it because of the shame we feel. . . .
Despite all these campaigns and programs, domestic and family violence rates have not reduced. While many within government agencies may believe that sharing information about clients at risk may help to prevent domestic and family violence, this poses its own risks. In order to gain the trust of Aboriginal women and their families, maintaining and communicating respect for privacy are of fundamental importance. Without that trust, many domestic and family violence offences will go unreported. It is essential too that a WDVCAS operates as an autonomous women’s service of high integrity and not just as a handmaid to the police and other government agencies.
High ethical standards, an understanding of our history, and sensitivity to our cultural protocols are profoundly important when working with Aboriginal women and gaining their trust; as is an awareness of their experience of repeated betrayals by white authorities.
To win the trust of Aboriginal women, services must acknowledge the wrongs of the past and show a commitment not to repeat them.