Systemic racism within Australia’s criminal justice system has been linked to disproportionate levels of intimate partner homicides involving Indigenous women.
Of the 151 homicide deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women during the past two decades, most could have been avoided with greater accountability in how police respond to family violence, experts say.
Despite accounting for less than three per cent of the population, Indigenous women are on average eight times more likely to be victims of homicide compared to non-Indigenous women, according to government data.
A recent Monash University study found nearly two-thirds of murdered Indigenous women died from blunt force trauma and prolonged assaults.
Offenders kicked, punched, hit and stomped on their victims and used anything from rocks, pieces of furniture and power cords to assault them.
Seventy-two per cent were killed by their de facto/husband while nearly 16 per cent died at the hands of boyfriends.
Twelve per cent were killed by a former partner and other intimate partners.
Alcohol was involved in 69.5 per cent of the deaths.
Monash Indigenous studies centre director Kyllie Cripps, who led the study, found in most cases, Indigenous women had reached out for help to first responders, particularly police.
“This study reveals that in almost all instances Indigenous women experiencing intimate partner violence have engaged a range of services or responses to help them in their situations,” Prof Cripps said.
“It is incumbent upon our first responders, indeed all of us with the capacity to support victim survivors, to genuinely hear them and to be responsive in ways that respect their right to life, to be safe and to be treated with dignity.”
Almost 48 per cent of the deaths occurred within significant city limits, which could have allowed for greater access to emergency and police services compared to the other 53.3 per cent of regional and remote settings where services can be limited.
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