Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people already face many barriers to reporting domestic and family violence.
We want to ensure any changes are culturally respectful and safe and have a positive impact on outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We acknowledge that these proposed changes may not be culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The ACT is also looking to learn from what other states and territories have done in relation to improving communication between agencies about domestic and family violence.
For example, in Victoria, the guidelines for similar legislation outline what is needed for a culturally respectful and safe approach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In Victoria, when seeking consent from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person at risk, the following must be considered:
- providing the person at risk with the option of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific service, or to be linked with a trusted third party such as a cultural advisor, mentor or other trusted professional
- ensuring awareness of any unconscious bias and assumptions in order to reduce this occurring
- providing consent by clearly explaining how information will be used and for what purpose and ensuring that message is culturally sensitive and addresses the particular concerns that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person might hold (such as fear of child removal)
- communicating how sensitive information will be protected from privacy breaches (e.g. how a service will protect a person’s confidentiality when the staff at a service provider may be known to the person at risk and/or the person using violence)
- ensuring that only the information that is relevant for an assessment or protection purpose is shared and that sensitive information is redacted if it is not relevant for that purpose.
In Victoria agencies must also:
- ask (at point of intake) all clients, including children, and regardless of appearance, whether they identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
- ask whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients (including children and young people) would prefer to receive a service from an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
- seek their client’s views on which services their information should be shared with and make relevant referrals
- recognise the discrimination experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the impact of unjust government policies and practices
- demonstrate respect and consideration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture
- work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and agencies to support the client in a culturally respectful manner.
In addition to this YourSay conversation, we are consulting with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and community members to ensure we get this right.
This consultation will include seeking the expertise of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body.