The ACT Labor-Greens Government’s explanation as to why it sat on a report detailing the impact of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for a full decade is inadequate and hurtful, said Elizabeth Kikkert MLA, Shadow Minister for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.
We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded presents “voices of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander victims of family violence—what they have experienced, how they have sought help and to what effect, and what they think should be done” and was released by the ACT Victims of Crime Coordinator in March 2009.
When asked why the ACT Government chose not to respond to the report or begin work on any of its 11 recommendations until October 2019, the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence said that “it did not require an official response from the government” because, unlike auditor-general or committee reports, “it was a report that developed outside of government”.
Mrs Kikkert said whilst the Victims of Crime Coordinator may have been an independent office holder, her office was funded by the ACT Government and her job was to advise the Attorney-General.
“The simple truth is that successive Labor-Greens governments did not think that this report was important enough to even acknowledge,” Mrs Kikkert said.
“To ignore this report because it wasn’t from the Auditor-General or an Assembly Committee is patronising and will be felt by many in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as a direct insult.
“It took courage for community members to share their personal experiences. Labor and the Greens may not have been legally required to respond to the voices of victims in this report, but they certainly had a moral obligation.
“We must constantly be listening to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We need responses to violence that strengthen families and are culturally safe.
“After a ten-year delay, I am committed to keeping the ACT Government accountable. I will keep following up until all 11 recommendations are fully implemented,” Mrs Kikkert concluded.