– Professor Marcia Langton, speaking on Q&A, June 27, 2016. However, when women and children are the least powerful, and where the drinker is the head of the household, all the money that comes in to the house goes into the buying of alcohol.
Pearson (2000) identifies alcohol as corrupting some of the most basic laws and customs in Aboriginal communities, in particular the traditional obligations of sharing resources. Mow (1992) identifies community silence as a barrier to overcoming the problem itself.
‘Abused children may use altered states of consciousness to escape from untenable situations. While variously described, these traumas almost exclusively relate to the impact on Indigenous communities of their interface with the dominant white communities throughout the history of white settlement of Australia, including contemporary Australian society. 4 The term ‘domestic violence’ has now largely been replaced with the term ‘family violence’ in the Indigenous literature.
Outside of the drinking circle are the women, children and non-drinkers who are required to provide the most basic resources (food) for all within the community, including the drinkers. . Indigenous people were more likely to be in improvised dwellings (sheds, humpies, tents and park benches), be in overcrowded living conditions and live in houses in high need of repair, than non-Indigenous people (Edwards & Madden 2001: 2).
Robertson also describes how young people who have matured early may look for love and move into precocious sexual activity at an early age. ‘Indigenous people have endured decades of oppression and neglect. Developing an understanding of the mental health of Indigenous people has been hampered by a range of issues. It also means that there are very few individuals whose lives are not affected by domestic violence, either as direct victims, child witnesses of violence or as family members of victims and users of violence. We acknowledge all traditional custodians, their Elders past, present and emerging, and we pay our respects to their continuing connection to their culture, community, land, sea and rivers. Vinson and colleagues found that those communities identified as having less social connectedness (fewer and weaker social relationships with others) were those having higher levels of child abuse (reported by Tomison & Wise 1999). It was common to see Aboriginal men bashing their wives across the head, sometimes so hard they would be left for dead on the ground. He believes that welfare is a mentality that is ‘internalised and perpetuated by recipients who see themselves as victimised or incapable and in need of assistance without reciprocation’ (Pearson 2000: 21).
Atkinson (1990) reports that Aboriginal women say violence and sexual abuse has increased since pornography entered communities. Mow also noted that cultural factors relating to ‘shame’ interferes with the recognition of the problem itself, and help seeking behaviour. “Domestic violence” refers to acts of violence (physical, sexual, emotional and psychological) that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship. ‘To suggest, as some people have, that Aboriginal people, particularly Aboriginal men, do not care about the protection of women and children is deeply hurtful and blatantly false.’ (ABC News Online 2001). It’s worth noting that “domestic violence” and “family violence” are related, but different terms. She explains that ‘children who learn self abusive and family abusive behaviours from their parents’ generation will apply it quite early in their own lives’ (1994: 25).
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