Industry representatives who spend their days dealing with family violence were able to receive a greater cultural understanding of the issue in a targeted forum this week.
The forum was a significant learning curve for professionals who come across the issue within indigenous families, and offered a cultural eye-opener for those who were not previously exposed to the issues the community faces.
The event included training with cultural officer Robynne Nelson, as well as a client’s journey through the system, and key organisations in the community highlighting local services on offer.
Co-organiser and Greater Shepparton Integrated Family Violence Network chairwoman Thelma Bull said it provided a chance for industry workers to become aware of past and present issues facing indigenous people, who are up to five times more likely to be exposed to family violence.
‘‘It’s a major concern for any community, and one of the purposes of this forum was to raise awareness of the issue of family violence and how we can support those families,’’ Sgt Bull said.
‘‘It’s about bringing all the different services together, and get them to be a part of the solution.’’
Shepparton indigenous woman Ms Nelson, who founded Healing the Spirit, has spent the past 20 years doing cultural competency training around domestic violence for Victorian organisations within the public sector.
Ms Nelson educates around a whole range of issues impacting indigenous people since colonisation, and the trauma that continues to impact the communities as a result.
‘‘It shows up in things today like family violence, kids in and out of home care, social and emotional wellbeing, and a range of other factors,’’ she said.
‘‘When these workers address family violence, it’s important they understand the other social and cultural issues that could be feeding the situation.’’
Ms Nelson said the addressing of family violence within indigenous families was down to communities, as well as opportunities for funding.
‘‘It needs a collaborative, co-ordinated approach by the aboriginal community and police, and there is the need for more resources around how we do that, and a more holistic approach around how we do it,’’ she said.