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Indigenous Victims Of Domestic Violence Are Slipping Through The Cracks

The head of Victoria's sole legal service for Indigenous victims of family violence says Aboriginal women are not getting the support they need.

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Domestic violence experts warn Indigenous victims of family violence are being forgotten and used as "political football".

Antoinette Braybrook (second from left) at the Royal Commission into Family Violence. (Supplied)

Antoinette Braybrook, CEO of the Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (FVPLS), has called on the Victorian and federal governments to stop handballing the issue of domestic violence and commit to long-term funding for services.

"This is a very important time to have some state and commonwealth collaboration about how this significant issue that impacts on Aboriginal women and children can be addressed. We should not be placed in the middle and used as a political football."

Braybrook was a witness at the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria this week and told BuzzFeed News that Aboriginal women are slipping through the cracks due to funding uncertainty.

"With our service we are only funded to provide services in certain areas and there's a huge gap in the metropolitan area and other regions that we know of where there is a very high need."

"Our organisation is constantly working to capacity. Reports of violence to the police have tripled in the last 10 years. The data tells us that family violence impacts on Aboriginal women at vastly disproportionate rates."

@RosieBatty1 thanku 4 ur advocacy 2 end #violenceagainstwomen @NationalFVPLS @FVPLSVictoria @NATSILS_ @koorimailnews

Braybrook applauds the state government for its investment in the $36 million Royal Commission, the first one ever to be held on family violence. She says that while the 10-year "Strong Culture Strong Peoples Strong Families plan", launched in 2008 to curb high rates of domestic violence, has had some success, overall it has failed to support those who need it the most.

"It fails Aboriginal women and children and this for me was evident due to the clear prioritisation of funding for men's programs over women's programs between 2008 and 2013," she said.

"After we finished giving our evidence at the royal commission it was reported by the state that there had been a slight increase in funding for women's programs. It is my understanding that it is an increase of all of one percent."

Victorian Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson (Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE)

Victorian Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Fiona Richardson acknowledges that previous measures have failed to stop family violence.

"While we know the system is broken and acknowledge the need for change, we do not have all of the solutions,” she told BuzzFeed News.

"We know that Aboriginal families are disproportionally represented in incidents of family violence and we need tailored prevention and response programs to better support victims.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said that he will implement all recommendations made by the commission.

Ms Richardson says the government has specifically asked for a key focus to be on Aboriginal family violence.

"The Victorian government's submission to the Royal Commission asks the Commissioners to investigate ways to end family violence within Aboriginal families."

The Royal Commission into Family Violence is expected to end in August with the final report to be delivered in 2016.

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at

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