No More Means No More

Suzanne Phoenix
July 9, 2024
Last Updated
June 24, 2024
Written by
Maggie Blanden
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First Nations readers are advised this post mentions names of people who have passed. This post discusses alleged domestic violence, you may wish to disengage for your own wellbeing.

Just a few weeks ago during part one of this series, the devastating and disproportionate impact of femicide of First Nations women in this country was illustrated. It is painfully clear that our women are the most affected by this relentless epidemic. 

However, in the weeks since, the Federal Government launched a Domestic Violence Expert Panel in response to nationwide calls for action. This panel shamefully failed to include a First Nations woman. Once again, so-called Australia has blatantly disregarded the invaluable expertise and leadership of Blak women.

Once again, we have witnessed the colony dehumanise and attempt to delegitimise our women.

Our Blak women and their voices are the future. When will the colony wake up and face this undeniable truth?

Dehumanising Blak Women

The colony has learned that women, especially Blak women, are the centre of our culture and community. 

Targeting Blak women’s bodies was and still is deemed the best and most effective way to destabilise and dismantle First Nations society. 

This agenda relies upon harmful and racist stereotypes about Blak women to dehumanise us and legitimise its violence and inaction. 

These stereotypes are used to reduce Blak women to merely passive and destined to disappear or die. 

We all know the stereotypes – ‘she’s just gone walkabout’, a ‘suicidal’, ‘drunk’ ‘prostitute‘criminal who has run away.’ It is a constant by both the authorities, media and society to reduce Blak women to  mere criminals, uncaring mothers and drug addicts

As Yuin woman and legal expert Amanda Porter has higlighted, in most, if not all, of these instances, ‘criminality and offending have absolutely nothing to do with Blak women’s fates in the colony.

White man’s law continues to portray us as unworthy of acknowledging, investigating or grieving to further this violent agenda. 

The so-called Australian fourth estate is complicit in the violence and disappearance of Blak women. It’s no secret that the majority of media in this country further embeds this culture of violence and silence in favour of the colony. 

These institutions hold firmly onto their misguided belief that they have the power to decide how Blak women live and die. 

We cannot allow the colony to legitimise femicide through reliance on this imagery. This provides the state with an alibi for white violence against Blak women. 

We know this to be true for many of Blak women who have passed – Ms Dhu, Aunty Tanya Day,  Lynette Daley, Queenie Hart, and the list keeps getting longer…

Policing State Failures

We must acknowledge the police and their role in DMIW. The police’s uniquely violent, colonial and gendered relationship with Aboriginal people, particularly Aboriginal women, lies at the heart of MMIW. 

Amanda Porter’s extensive research and advocacy continues to remind us – the police have been the ‘most enduring and deeply entrenched legac[y]’ of colonialism.

This legacy continues with intentional inaction, settler blindness and lack of urgency when confronted with violence against Aboriginal women, particularly in contrast with white women.  

According to a study published by the British Journal of Criminology, 75% of First Nations women in so-called Australia are victims of police reluctance and inaction following domestic violence.

Blak women are disproportionately dismissed or wrongly identified as the primary aggressor of violence rather than victim when seeking help from authorities. 

We also know, through the activism of Noongar Yamatji Senator Dorinda Cox, that the most  critical timeframe of a missing person report is the first 72 hours. For Blak women, this window is continuously missed. 

Finally, we know Blak women are far less likely to seek help due to generational distrust and fear of the police. 

This cannot continue. I refuse to refer to this as a system failure. Why? Because the colonial systems are working exactly as intended within the racist and violent settler colonial constructs in which they were created. 

This is settler colonialism in action, and DMIW is the by-product of this agenda. We cannot stay silent while so-called Australia signals an ‘open season’ against Blak women. 

 Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis.
– ABC Four Corners

When will you wake up?

This is a human rights crisis of violence against First Nations women and girls and the nation must acknowledge and confront the deeply entrenched systemic forces against us.

Presencing Blak Women 

We know that First Nations women are more than the stereotypes, media headlines and racist slurs that infect so-called Australian society. 

We, as First Nations women, cannot be narrowly defined or assimilated to fit the definitions, stereotypes or ‘idea’ of how settlers want us to be. 

We are strong, Blak sovereign women who are proud mothers, daughters, cousins, sisters, friends and colleagues. 

We engage in decolonial thought when we truly ‘presence’ Blak women in the issue, as Dr McQuire reminds us. 

And by doing so – we see Blak women for who they truly are. We appreciate and uplift the ‘fullness of their identities, relationships, Country and sovereignty.’

What defines them is not their absence but their presence.
Amy McQuire (Darumbal and South Sea Islander)

We know that breathing life into First Nations women and our stories is an act of protest against intergenerational violence. 

We are upholding our rights as Blak women to self-determine and assert our sovereignty in the colony. 

This is truth-telling in action. 

The Answers

Our mob have the solutions. 

We hold the answers to this epidemic. 

Our matriarchs have always stood, strong and proud, with unwavering dedication to protecting Blak women and girls. The nation must amplify their voices to ensure transformative action, rather than broken promises.

Without the tireless work of Blak women, we would not know the immense extent and pervasiveness of violence against Blak women. 

We must continue to uplift and demand a seat for these women. 

Kurin Minang women, member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and women's safety advocate, Dr Hannah McGlade reminded us that the solution is rooted in sustained research and funding for these Blak women and mob-led services. 

So-called Australia must remember the phrase - “nothing about us, without us”.

Yes – this means appointing Blak women to the Federal Government's "rapid review" panels investigating how to best prevent violence against women. Another failure of the colony.  

So-called Australia must confront the unequivocal truth that uplifting and resourcing Blak women’s First Nations-led solutions is the future. 

Our Blak women and their voices are the future.  

It’s time that the colony and its institutions – the judiciary, the legislature, the mainstream media and the rest of so-called Australia, realise this. 

Your Call to Action

Support the landmark campaign of the  Wiyi Yani U Thangani Institute for First Nations Gender Justice.

Donate and campaign for sustainable funding and resources for Djirra, Wirringa Baiya, Jumbunna Institute, Sisters Inside and Institute for Collaborative Race Research.

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