Inner-city Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are raising their voices against domestic violence. Redfern anti-violence campaigner Dixie Link-Gordon believes the time has come for Indigenous women to speak out loudly and publicly against domestic violence.
Link-Gordon was one of the organisers of Sydney’s Black Out Violence campaign, which was set up when a horrific gang rape in the Sydney suburb of Redfern in 2004, spurred 250 organisations to rally on The Block.
Today’s Black Out Violence programs are delivered by Mudgin-Gal, a Redfern women’s shelter turned hub of anti-violence activism. Link-Gordon is the organisation’s CEO.
“In the past here in the inner city the only thing that Aboriginal women had to do with the anti-violence message was to do the Welcome to Country and provide a bit of entertainment,” she says. “Well, we actually have a voice and we have something to say about the violence.”
Link-Gordon says it’s vital to get Aboriginal people talking about violence.
“There will be an element in the community that does not want to hear about it. They know it happens but they don’t dare speak it out publicly. But we have to talk about it. We have to say it’s affecting our families.”
Link-Gordon is proud of Mudgin-Gal’s many projects in tackling violence and the strong role it plays in its immediate community.
“The name means ‘women’s place’,” she explains. “We provide a drop-in centre for local women, so when they come in they can have tea or coffee, use the bathroom and laundry facilities, or just come in for a yarn.”
Not all of Mudgin-gal’s anti-violence programs are aimed at city women. Back in 2004, when Black Out Violence won the Violence Against Women Prevention Award, 85 New South Wales Indigenous rugby league teams launched the campaign by wearing purple armbands onto the field of the Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout.
Now Mudgin-Gal is building on that demonstration of solidarity with a program to educate regional footballers. The initiative, called Tackling Violence, has been so successful that this year that the number of teams participating has tripled to 15.