Hearing your stories – helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women combat tech-facilitated abuse

Today, the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) has released a new research report highlighting the complex experiences of technology-facilitated abuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from regional and remote areas of Australia.

Commissioned by eSafety in 2020 from Australian National University researchers at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy, the research was informed by yarning sessions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and interviews with frontline workers, including participants from the domestic and family violence sector.

The research found the most common abusive behaviour experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in remote or regional areas was through online threats – with women typically receiving threats via text messages, phone calls and on social media. Harassment, stalking, monitoring, sharing of intimate images without consent, and impersonation were also reported as common forms of technology-facilitated abuse.

The research also identified complexities associated with addressing technology-facilitated abuse in regional and remote areas, including how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from these areas may be at greater risk due to low levels of awareness of technology-facilitated abuse and lack of accessible education programs and support services.

Additionally, the research found that while close social networks and kinship structures are a source of strength in Indigenous communities, it can make it easier for perpetrators to gather information and locate women who have previously fled abusive situations. It can also increase the potential for violence to be perpetrated on the women by multiple abusers in the community. These findings highlight the unique and complicated elements of technology-facilitated abuse that require special consideration and tailored responses.

“eSafety is committed to giving a voice to Indigenous women in regional and remote communities and transforming research findings into meaningful action,” says eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

“We know that women are disproportionately affected by all forms of online abuse. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, technology-facilitated abuse, especially as an extension of real-world family violence, are at much higher rates than the general population.”

“We will continue to work closely with communities and frontline workers to raise awareness of technology-facilitated abuse and develop effective place-based strategies that acknowledge the strength of First Nations communities and cultures,” says Ms Inman Grant.

This research and its findings will help shape eSafety programs and build the capacity of frontline workers to provide high-quality culturally sensitive support to Aboriginal Torres Strait women who experience technology-facilitated abuse in regional and remote areas.

As part of its commitment to working with communities to co-design solutions that work, eSafety has also provided grants* to eight Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations across Australia to create place-based resources and training and provide project officer support to work directly with women. These resources will help increase community awareness of technology-facilitated abuse and support frontline workers to help their clients.

The research and grants program were funded under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. The report complements earlier research into the online experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women from urban communities.

You can view the report here.

*List of Grantees

eSafety is delighted to have allocated grants to the following Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations:

  • Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation
  • Djirra
  • Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation (SA)
  • Karadi Aboriginal Corporation
  • Many Rivers Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (Gurehlgam Corporation Limited)
  • Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS) Aboriginal Corporation
  • Southern Aboriginal Corporation
  • Western Australian Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation (trading as Aboriginal Family Legal Services)

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