So, I was watching ABC News and I saw this story:
The first safe house for women has been opened in the Northern Territory as part of the federal intervention and the ongoing fight against the high rates of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities.
Although it has been welcomed, the safe house has also been criticised for looking like a detention centre.
Okay, there are some really good things about this. But before I get to that, it’s made from 4 shipping containers. Which struck me as a bit suss. I know that shipping containers are sometimes used in buildings but I Googled ‘shipping container building’ and this was on the first site that came up: ‘Be aware that containers are not a perfect building material, since they tend to corrode, but they have been used effectively in some cases, especially in areas near saltwater. ‘ And there would be temperature concerns, surely? More on Wikipedia. I’m probably missing something, but I can’t shake the feeling that a safe house wouldn’t be built using such materials in more populous areas or if white people were going to be the ones using it.
But I like that they’ve trained local women to run the safe house. It’s a step back towards the ‘successful women-run community-based child safety programmes’ described in a post of Lauredhel’s in 2007. It’s progress. It looks like a move towards safety for women and children in NT. The ALP site has more.
While I was looking up information about the safe house – there’s not much online – I found this 2006 article in the Herald about safe houses in NSW:
The refuges – in Wilcannia, Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett and Lightning Ridge – service the women and children of the Murdi Paaki’s 58,000-strong population, of which 14 per cent are indigenous.
The region is among the most disadvantaged in the state, characterised by isolation, high unemployment, low incomes, chronic housing shortages and over-crowding.
But while domestic violence is increasing, its refuges for women and children receive about one-third of the average funding for other similar services in NSW, the Orana Far West Women’s Safe Houses Project report says.
I feel pretty uninformed, to be honest. I’m a first generation Aussie and my knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is largely the product of an education system with what is at best a half-hearted attitude towards educating students about our Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures. I’m trying to learn more and I don’t as yet feel equipped to comment more than I have. So, particularly with regard to violence, the intervention and safe houses, what am I missing here and what would you like to add?
ETA: Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.