Lifeline WA and Aboriginal trainers from the Indigenous Consulting Group (ICG) are joining forces to deliver workshops around domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities and families.

As it stands, First Nations people are twice as likely than non-Indigenous people to be affected by domestic and family violence.

Lifeline WA, in working with ICG trainers, have employed Aboriginal people to deliver culturally safe and appropriate workshops. The workshops include Indigenous DV-alert facilitated by Palyku Bunaba Walmajarri Nyoongar woman, Tara McCulloch, and Brothers Standing Tall, facilitated by Yamatji man, Brian Councillor.

DV-alert is a free two-day workshop that supports frontline community and volunteer workers in learning about Aboriginal culture and history. The workshop increases their ability to identify signs of violence and their capacity to deliver culturally safe care or refer clients to alternate services that will support the person’s wellbeing.

A proud mother with experience supporting Indigenous women through domestic and family violence, McCulloch said it’s important for people working within the sector to understand Aboriginal history and culture.

“A lot of people understand domestic violence, and when you are faced with the trauma of all those clients, constantly being told these horrible stories … you are empathetic to them. You can start to feel the stages of burnout,” she said.

“But lots of people come in and ask, ‘How do I help blackfullas?’ … For Indigenous women, it is completely different—she is an important person in her community. [Workers] need to understand the dynamic of Aboriginal cultural ways.”

McCulloch noted the importance of frontline workers in delivering appropriate care.

“Being able to positively interact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a skill you can learn,” she said.

“When you have those communication skills, non-verbal and verbal, it can play a huge role in how you can support them and provide positive outcomes for each client.”

Men’s program, Brothers Standing Tall, is a two-hour interactive presentation on domestic and family violence which is specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. The presentation develops a culturally safe space for men to learn, yarn and feel supported around how to prevent violence in their families and communities.

Councillor, a proud father and Yamatji man, delivers Brothers Standing Tall.

“It’s a great opportunity for our men to come together in a non-judgmental and safe environment.”

“[We are] getting them to learn and talk about family violence and the impact on Aboriginal and [Torres Strait] Islander families … getting them to start reflecting on and thinking about what we can do to stop and prevent domestic and family violence in our community and throughout Australia.”

Councillor said it’s important for men to feel supported and empowered.

“Aboriginal men growing up, we already have people looking at us and thinking that we are thieves, that we beat people up and we’re criminals. We are already fighting that before we even grow up,” he said.

“This training is going to help us, but we need people to understand as Aboriginal men we are not all violent, we’re not thieves or criminals. Trying to change that perception is important.

“Sometimes people who are really good people just make bad mistakes and the wrong decisions, we can’t keep judging people again and again and never give them an avenue to resolve these issues.”

Councillor feels a strong connection to his role facilitating the workshops and the work he can do to support the men involved.

“As a Yamatji man, I have cultural obligations not just to my people and my land but to Australia and humanity,” he said.

“Women in our culture are the most important, because they have our children. If our women aren’t being looked after … where does our culture end up?”

By Rachael Knowles