Indigenous family violence policies, legislation and services: Improving access and suitability for Indigenous women in the East Kimberley

Project Details

Reducing the levels of family violence for Indigenous women and children is a national priority, involving complex intersectional issues. The aims of this pilot study were to identify areas in policy, service delivery and legal assistance to enable better access for Indigenous female victims of family violence, improve their experience and satisfaction with these services, and increase their capacity to seek assistance from police and services and pursue court processes.

The study investigated the effectiveness of family violence policies, legislation and support services for Indigenous women in Kununurra, WA.

It was guided by the following key research questions:

1. What are the historical, social, political, economic and regulatory contexts that frame Indigenous family violence for Indigenous women in Kununurra and WA?

2. What are the different impacts of family violence legislation and related policy for Indigenous women in different Australian contexts and do the varying family violence reforms underway in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia address the needs of Indigenous women?

3. What are the specific barriers and enablers that impact on the capacity of Indigenous female victims of violence to seek assistance from police and services, to pursue court processes, and to improve their experience and satisfaction with these services?

This research used ethnographic methods, with a reliance on participant observation. The research methods included: (1) a comparative, critical historical legal analysis and contemporary assessment of FDV related legal framework in Australia, with a focus on West Australia; (2) ethnographic interviews; (3) quantitative epidemiological analysis of publicly available, relevant datasets in Kununurra. Using thematic analysis, the data will form the empirical basis of an extended case-study history developed by the ethnographic and socio-legal analyses.


Dr Kristen Smith

Mark Rogers

Edna O’Malley

Margaret Moore

Jessica Webster


Gawooleng Yawoodeng Aboriginal Corporation

Wunan Corporation

Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation

Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service

MG Corporation

Binarri-binyja Yarrawoo

Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation


University of Melbourne Early Career Research Grant ($37,363)