Helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women combat tech abuse

New research from the eSafety Commissioner shows online abuse, restricted access to technology and stalking were commonly experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as part of domestic and family violence, with impacts rippling out to the wider community.  

Domestic and family violence frontline workers interviewed as part of this survey cited low digital literacy, limited understanding about how to help women experiencing tech abuse and a culture of sharing phones as placing significant barriers to seeking support.

“While we know technology-facilitated abuse has similar impacts on women of all backgrounds, it can be particularly challenging for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who fear being socially isolated from their community,” says eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant.   

“Elders, family and close friends were turned to for support, but were often unable to help due to their lack of technological expertise, which is why we will be working closely with communities to develop new online resources to assist Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women deal with this issue,” says Inman Grant.

The new resources will help Elders better mediate tech abuse in the community, while face-to-face training and supporting resources will assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in recognising and dealing with technology-facilitated abuse.

The co-designed resources will be available from 2020 and are funded as part of the Women’s Safety Package Technology Trials and the Fourth Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, said: “Technology-facilitated abuse of women, particularly in vulnerable groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is a significant and ongoing issue. That is why the Morrison Government is providing the eSafety Office with $2.5 million to support important work for these communities. eSafety’s latest report highlights both the severity and complexity of the challenge and provides valuable insights to shape future programs and resources.” 

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Senator the Hon. Marise Payne said the Morrison Government has zero tolerance for violence against women and their children.
 
“Women have the right to be safe in their homes, in their communities, in their workplaces, and online.
 
“To break the cycle of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women online, solutions must be community-driven; they must be trauma-informed approaches that prioritise cultural healing, family restoration, and the strength of Indigenous families,” says Minister Payne.

“We are very pleased to be working with selected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to tailor our eSafetyWomen program to meet the needs of communities, so that women get the essential help they need,” says Inman Grant.

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