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The Dhelk Dja Agreement: A Landmark Accord for Indigenous Australians
In August 2020, the Australian government and a coalition of 16 Indigenous groups signed the Dhelk Dja Agreement, a historic pact aimed at addressing the disproportionate rates of family violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The agreement, which means “taking care of family” in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people, is the result of years of advocacy and negotiations between Indigenous leaders and the government. It commits all signatories to work together to prevent, respond to, and eradicate family violence in Indigenous communities.
Family violence is a pervasive issue in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with rates of domestic violence and child abuse being up to 10 times higher than in the non-Indigenous population. The root causes of this epidemic are complex and multifaceted, including intergenerational trauma, systemic racism, and social dislocation.
The Dhelk Dja Agreement recognizes the urgent need to address these underlying factors and provides a framework for collaboration between Indigenous communities, government agencies, and service providers. It includes commitments to:
– Develop a shared understanding of family violence and its impact on Indigenous communities.
– Build the capacity of Indigenous organisations to respond to family violence and support victims and survivors.
– Ensure that Indigenous people have a meaningful role in designing and delivering services.
– Embed cultural safety and respect for Indigenous traditions and knowledge in all aspects of service delivery.
– Collect and analyse data to monitor progress and inform evidence-based solutions.
The agreement is a significant step forward in the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Australia. It acknowledges the unique experiences and perspectives of Indigenous people and places them at the center of efforts to address family violence. It also recognizes that true change requires a collaborative, cross-sector approach that involves both Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders.
The Dhelk Dja Agreement is not a panacea, and there is still much work to be done to address the systemic injustices that underpin family violence in Indigenous communities. However, it represents a significant milestone in the journey towards a more just, equitable, and respectful society for all Australians.
In conclusion, the Dhelk Dja Agreement is a groundbreaking accord that has the potential to transform the way that Indigenous people experience and respond to family violence in Australia. As we move forward, it is critical that we honor the commitments made in the agreement and continue to work together to create positive and lasting change.