Friday, January 14, 2005

Safe as houses, Aboriginal women stranded in the desert's pain.

From the letters column "West Australian" Thursday 13 Jan
Having worked for some time with the women and children affected by family violence in a remote Aboriginal community, I was heartened to learn that the Federal Government has promised legal and support services for indigenous victims and potential victims of family violence and sexual assault.
The Aboriginal women of Balgo Hills have been trying for many years to get funding for a safe house. The only safe place for these women is on my living room floor. Food, clothing and other essentials, such as transport out of the community when necessary, are all supplied from small donations from outside supporters. The nearest safe house is 275 kms away in Halls Creek.
We can only hope that some time soon the WA Government will stop paying lip service to its supposed commitment to "doing something about family violence in Aboriginal communities" and actually provide the funding for a safe house.
Funding is available to "raise awareness", but the women of Balgo Hills don't need awareness raised about family violence and sexual assault, they need a safe house.

Judith Nampitjin Power, co-ordinator, Kapulalangu Aboriginal Women's Association, Balgo Hills.
I remember when women were trying to establish a refuge in Alice Springs in 1981, they used to say that the last 400 yards was the worst, they had to run. The Alice Springs Local Council thought it was being run by witches so they bulldozed it!

The confluence between racism and sexism in Australia is truly the most shameful part of our colonial history. We have yet to seriously address this problem. Where is there a male politician with the courage to speak out. I'll lay garlands at his door.

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