Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

Sweet and sour

A small team from Bonnie’s had the privilege to travel to Darwin in May this year, to attend the Overcoming Indigenous Family Violence conference. Those of us who attended shared our insights and appreciations when we returned. Here are some of our main takeaways for you.

An – Program Manager
I was excited to be in the same room with other passionate people like us at Bonnie’s: people who are working on practical solutions to address family and domestic violence. I especially enjoyed hearing about Moogie Patu’s work. She runs a holistic program that looks at how violence can impact an individual, their family and their community as a whole. What struck me the most is the importance she placed on the role of Aboriginal facilitators in delivering programs for Aboriginal people, and how crucial this is to create positive and impactful change.

Zual – Family Worker
What I enjoyed the most was our trip to Tiwi Island where we visited a local Aboriginal community. I was delighted to see the wide range of initiatives established by the community leaders,  in such a small community. It was also very enjoyable being so remote and being able to switch off from the distractions that come with our fast-paced life. What I learnt from the experience was how difficult it is for remote communities to provide services for women. Dianne Gipey, the CEO from the Alice Spring Women’s Shelter told us that within the past year they have had to turn away more than 250 women simply because they do not have the support needed to meet the demand. I was shocked to hear that everyone in the community knows the shelter’s location. I reflected back on our refuge and the lengths we go to, to keep our location hidden. Luckily, we have the capacity to do so – these workers and clients don’t have that luxury.

Tracy – Executive Officer
I was shocked – or rather, I found it shocking – to hear firsthand, the level of violence experienced by Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory. One woman’s story was jaw-dropping. Her situation had caused her to reach out to a women’s refuge over 300 times. It is almost unimaginable.

The ongoing impact of colonisation and suppression, the poverty experienced by too many people and the failure of this wealthy country to do better, makes me more passionate to sustain our important work…

But in some ways, what was more shocking, was the subtle and not so subtle racism that is a part of the Territory experience. This is an area where 25.5% of the population is Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander.

As we wandered around the markets in the evening, I saw young people – enjoying the balmy weather and hanging out with their friends – being moved on from their harmless actions. I saw no white kids being moved on. I saw Aboriginal buskers, quite a bit older than these kids, entertaining us with their singing and guitar – being moved on for no apparent reason either – except perhaps the show of power by authorities.

While some of us shopped and enjoyed the ambience of the evening, some of the Aboriginal people did not appear so relaxed – needing to keep an eye out for the police rather than enjoying the laid-back city. And this is what has stayed with me the most: the contrasting experience of the many indigenous Australians to the non-indigenous – living in this seemingly friendly, multicultural, tourist-friendly city.

Even knowing the complexities of the matters – I was still shocked by it all.

Jackie – Domestic Violence Response Enhancement Worker
Attending the conference was a beautiful experience. I was amazed by the courage of the women who stood up, united as one, in front of everybody, telling their stories. I was surprised by the difficulties that these ladies have been through. Living in a remote community, the access to justice and services are very limited: women have to wait for a week for assistance after calling the police. It seems unbelievable.

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