Former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and Order of Australia, Warren Mundine wrote an piece in “The Australian” highlighting the pandemic of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. He condemned the Aboriginal leaders for being silent on the epidemic and also punishing anyone who does speak out. Women who dare speak out about violence are shunned by their tribe and are often blamed for what happens to them. The perpetrators are often protected. For those who don’t know, this isn’t coming from a “white” columnist. Mundine is from the Bundajulung tribe – traditional inhabitants of of far North – East New South Wales and southern Queensland.
Mundine highlighted a number of cases, (which are really hard to find on Google, I might add), of where women were brutally attacked or killed by partners. One was near Bill Bell Park, Darwin and another incident was a woman who was constantly stomped on and kicked by her partner in Alice Springs. According to Mundine, the Bill Bell Park murder occurred the same time Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demanded an Royal Commission after ABC’s “Four Corners” aired a segment with concerning footage of events in the Don Dale Detention Centre in Alice Springs. These were not heard of in mainstream media. The only exception was Sky News’ (Australia), Matt Cunningham. Since then, Andrew Bolt from the Herald Sun, ABC Radio National (RN) have spoken about Mundine’s article.
Nothing on Mamamia even though they have spoken about the domestic violence rate in Aboriginal communities last year… that article took me a while to find, by the way. From what I saw, there was nothing about the more recent murder near Bill Bell Park. Nothing from Clementine Ford’s site (should I be surprised?). I didn’t watch “Studio 10” today. Whether the panel mentioned it, I’m not sure.
This is quite an appalling record by many in the Australian media, especially by those who claim to champion the rights of women and children. As Mundine asked rhetorically:
Are people outraged only when white women are abused? Do only white children deserve protection from pedophiles? (sic)
So, why is there a lack of reporting? Most likely “cultural sensitivity” gone mad, not wanting to rock the boat and risk causing offence or demonise Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people collectively. Mundine had a blunt message about that in the article too:
Frankly, if Indigenous people remain silent we deserve to be tarnished. When communities protect abusers they are complicit in abuse.
Maybe a part of the problem is that Australia, maybe out of guilt, has over – romanticised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. But Mundine pointed out failings in Aboriginal communities in regards to domestic violence. For example, women who are abused are too often afraid to speak out because she runs the real risk of being blamed and ostracised by her own family, as well as the supporters of the perpetrator because the abuser and victim are often from the same tribe. Brave women have risked backlash by speaking out. These include: Jacinta Nampijimpa and Bess Nungarrayi Price, who condemned the number of children being abused in Aboriginal communities.
Yes, there is a lack of commentary and reporting from feminist bloggers/ journalists. I must admit, I’m not innocent in this. This is the first post that I’ve dealt with the issue of violence in Aboriginal communities in any sort of depth. It hasn’t been a topic that has entered my mind a lot. And, admittedly, the fear of seeming like stigamatising the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has crossed my mind. But this can’t be seen as acceptable by anyone. It’s appalling and should be called out. I do commend Warren Mundine for speaking out about this. I doubt this would’ve been easy for him to expose, either. Hopefully, he’s sparked a much needed discussion about violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. A discussion that is long, long overdue.