Three Northern Territory Indigenous organisations are set to receive shares of $1.125 million to support the introduction of new domestic and family violence programs.

Announced by the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the funding will be administered to Tangentyere Council, Katherine West Health Board and Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC) across two years.

It will enable the organisations to trial new services which will improve access to specialised family violence services.

“The aim of the two-year trial is to improve and expand culturally appropriate services and supports specifically for Indigenous children and young people who have been impacted by family and domestic violence,” said Minister Ruston.

The three organisations will establish different services depending on the needs of their communities.

Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation are aiming to administer the Strong Parents, Strong Kids, Strong Communities Program which is informed by community to provide holistic group programs for both parents and children, individual counselling and play-based models of support.

The funding received by Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation will enable the LOVE BiTES respectful relationships education program. Aimed at 15–17-year-olds, the violence prevention program will be offered within schools and communities.

NPYWC will establish a Child and Youth Wellbeing Officer role in Aputula which will focus on the provision of Specialist Therapeutic Care for the corporation’s Domestic and Family Violence Service.

The role will support group and individual therapeutic sessions with children and young people who have experienced or are experiencing trauma in response to lived experiences of domestic and family violence.

NPYWC CEO Liza Balmer said the new program will work with young ones in a way the organisation has not done before.

“It’s entering into an area that we haven’t started work in yet, so it’s all unknown territory at the moment,” she said.

“Our initial approach on this is going to be quite therapeutic in using narrative therapy practices with children and young people.”

NPYWC has over 25 years’ experience administering domestic and family violence services.

“Our core business is still supporting victims and responding to victims but we also have extended our service so we can work in a more long-term way with women and their families and community,” Balmer said.

“Our service, being community-based and particularly with these specialist programs we run, it means you can work with individuals, but that work extends further inevitably to their family and then the broader community.

“When we are out in community, we are also able to spend time out bush with women and it is often a place of healing. Because of their connection to culture and to the Country, and that feeling of being safe. It is often in that environment … women are able to speak up, about what we call their ‘strong stories’—what makes them not victims.”

Balmer said the two years of funding will support the NPYWC to develop a productive framework and hopes the funding will extend beyond that to support the framework’s effect on community.

“I think in two years what we will be able to demonstrate is a framework and … measures of impact down the line,” she said.

“It is only two years so it’s not long enough to see huge outcomes.”

The trial programs are expected to contribute to achieving the Closing the Gap target which hopes to see the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children reduced by at least 50 per cent by 2031.

“The Government understands it is vital preventative programs and responses to violence against Indigenous women and children have community input and community delivery where possible,” Minister Ruston told NIT.

“There are important historical and cultural reasons for the differences in approaches to family violence as it affects Indigenous women and children which must be respected.”

By Rachael Knowles