Working with Indigenous survivors of sexual assault


The publicity given recently to allegations of sexual assault of women in Indigenous communities in Australia has highlighted the urgent need for culturally appropriate services for the survivors. The author of this article has worked with Indigenous survivors of sexual assault for a number of years. Her observations on this issue are made as a professional Indigenous woman working in this area, and also as a member of a family, community and wider society. Each of these spheres of influence (family, community, society) create a different approach or response to Indigenous sexual assault, and have the power to enable or disable the ability of a survivor to heal from sexual assault and other unresolved traumas. This paper includes the historical and contemporary aspects of sexual assault as they impact on Indigenous people. It suggests some improvements to existing service delivery to enable cultural appropriateness, and it gives some advice on the skills and knowledge needed in order to work effectively with Indigenous people.

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