Additional information for Aboriginal communities

Domestic and family violence and Aboriginal communities

Domestic and family violence has a severe impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities in NSW.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates and more severe forms of domestic and family than non-Aboriginal women in Australia.

Many Aboriginal people do not report domestic and family violence because of impacts of colonisation, including historical and contemporary experiences of discrimination, racism and lack of understanding and cultural competence.

It is important to acknowledge that domestic and family violence is not a traditional aspect of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultures.

What should I do if I feel unsafe?

Everyone should feel safe in their relationships. You should be free from violence and all forms of abuse.

If you are concerned about violence or abuse in your relationship, there are services available to help.

If you feel unsafe, the police are there to help you. You can ask to speak with an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer.

If police identify that you may be experiencing domestic and family violence, they will refer you to Safer Pathway.

What is Safer Pathway?

Safer Pathway is a NSW Government program that supports victim-survivors of domestic and family violence across NSW.

All domestic and family violence that is reported to NSW Police is automatically referred to Safer Pathway. Other services can also make referrals.

More information about Safer Pathway.

Does Safer Pathway have Aboriginal support workers?

Every Safer Pathway specialist service for women has an Aboriginal Focus Worker and you can ask to speak to her when a Safer Pathway support worker calls.

Safer Pathway specialist services for men are trained on best practices for working with Aboriginal communities. Many have Aboriginal workers and programs, such as community outreach.

Safer Pathway support workers can also help you access other support services that you may be more comfortable with, including Aboriginal services.

Safer Pathway and children

While Safer Pathway provides support to victim-survivors of domestic and family violence aged 16 and over, there are connections with the child protection system. For example, a woman referred to Safer Pathway may have children whose safety is also under threat because of domestic and family violence.

A Safer Pathway support worker will help with your children’s safety. They will also offer referrals to help address your children’s needs.

Safer Pathway services are mandatory child protection reporters. They may make a child protection report if a child’s safety is at risk.  They will discuss concerns with you before making a report.

More information about children and domestic and family violence.

What are mandatory child protection reporters?

Mandatory reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), sometimes called Child Protection.

Which Safer Pathway agencies are mandatory reporters?

  • NSW Police Force
  • Specialist domestic violence support services
  • NSW Health
  • Department of Communities and Justice - child protection
  • Department of Communities and Justice - housing
  • Department of Education
  • Corrective Services NSW
  • Other non-government agencies e.g. family support workers

What is a safety assessment within Safer Pathway?

The NSW Police and the Safer Pathway support worker will ask you questions from a checklist called the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool. This is so we can understand the level of risk to your safety and know how we can help you.

Some of these questions may be confronting or you may feel shame. We ask them to assess the level of risk that you and your child/ren are facing. These questions are mostly about the person who threatened or harmed you. We ask them to assess the level of risk that you and your child/ren are facing  so we can work with you to keep you and your child/ren safe.

The support worker will also ask you about your fears and concerns, so that we can help address these.

What happens if I am assessed as ‘at serious threat’?

This tells us that there are serious concerns for your safety. If you are assessed as ‘at serious threat’, the specialist domestic and family violence support worker will refer your matter to the next Safety Action Meeting.

General information about Safety Action Meetings.

Who attends Safety Action Meetings?

Safety Action Meetings are led by Police and a member of the local domestic violence support service for women. The meetings are also attended by:

  • NSW Health
  • Housing
  • Child Protection
  • Education
  • Corrective Services NSW
  • Key non-government service providers in the local area e.g. Family Support Services and Aboriginal Services if appropriate

Why are police and child protection at the meeting?

Police and child protection will both be at the meeting. The purpose of the Safety Action Meeting is for agencies to share relevant information and discuss ways to keep you and your child/ren safe. Police and Child Protection may have information to share that is important to you and your child/ren’s safety, and they may be able to offer actions that will help you.

Will someone tell people what I want at the Safety Action Meeting?

For female victim-survivors, an Aboriginal Focus Worker from the Safer Pathway support service can tell people what you want at the Safety Action Meeting if you would like them to. So can the person who contacted you to complete the safety assessment.

If there is a support service you’re already working with, and you would like them to attend the Safety Action Meeting, they can be invited to attend.

Where can I get more information and support?

You can find more resources on domestic and family violence and Aboriginal people here.

If you do not feel comfortable reporting to police, there are other ways to get help:

  • Talk to someone you trust, like a friend or family member
  • Talk with a health worker, they can help you to access support.
  • Contact the Victims Services Aboriginal Contact Line, a confidential phone service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experienced family violence, sexual assault or any violent crime on on 1800 019 123
  • Contact Wirringa Baiya, state-wide community legal centre for Aboriginal women, children and youth on 02 9569 3847 or 1800 686 587

If you would like to contact Safer Pathway services directly, you can use the numbers below.

  • For female victim-survivors, contact your nearest Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) on 1800 938 227. You can ask to speak with an Aboriginal Focus Worker.
  • For male victim-survivors, email and you will be connected to your local Safer Pathway support service for men.
Last updated:

25 Nov 2021

We will use your rating to help improve the site.
This field is required
Please don't include personal or financial information here
This field is required
Please don't include personal or financial information here

We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

Top Return to top of page Top