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Australia launches investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women


The motion to launch the inquiry was brought forward by Dorinda Cox and Lidia Thorpe, two Indigenous women who are senators for the Australian Green Party.

Both were touched by this tragedy. Justice has not been served because [ces personnes] were not important enough to investigate these murdersMs Thorpe said in a speech to the Senate.

A member of the DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara community in Melbourne, Ms Thorpe mentioned that her cousin was killed and her body dumped on the lawn of a family member.

One of the tasks of the Senate investigation will be to shed light on the number of women and children of the first peoples who are missing or murdered in Australia. Although some data is collected by police departments state by state, there is currently no national database that tracks the number of women and children who have gone missing or been killed.

Aborigines overrepresented

Ms Cox, a woman from the Perth-based Noongar-Yamatji community, said she was aware of 76 cases of missing or murdered women across the country.

In his home state, Western Australia, Aborigines account for 17.5% of unresolved missing persons cases, while they make up just 3% of the state’s population, according to data collected by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2019.

Dorinda Cox is a former police officer, but she says she sometimes felt helpless in this role.

I have been inside the machine and have seen with my own eyes how much conscious and unconscious biases exist when we talk about First Nations people.

A quote from Dorinda Cox, Senator

Investigation by Senators

It evokes in particular excuses for not investigating specific cases when First Nations people are missing or murdered. The investigation will assess whether there is a disparity in the allocation of resources depending on whether the alleged victim is Aboriginal or not.

Systemic causes of violence against women and children will also be examined.

Unlike Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which cost $ 92 million and spanned three years under the direction of a commission appointed for that purpose, the Australian inquiry will be led by senators.

However, the Senate inquiry could recommend the holding of a royal commission in its final report.

A budget for the Senate inquiry has not been finalized, but the timeline for the first phase will be six months, with an interim report due by June 2022. Ms Cox said the Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs , Ken Wyatt, had supported the investigation, and she believes that the necessary resources will be allocated.

Senator Cox traveled to Ottawa in 2018 to meet with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, members of the RCMP and Senator Kim Pate to discuss the Canadian investigation. There are parallels between the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Australia and that of Indigenous peoples in Canada, she said.

It reminded me of the colonial system in which we operate, which allows, in particular the police, not to keep the lives of First Nations members at the same level as others.

A quote from Dorinda Cox, Senator

Lessons from Canada’s survey

The national inquiry in Canada was criticized along the way by families who did not feel supported in the process. Allegations of malfunction also emerged after the resignation of key members of the commission.

Dorinda Cox said the Australian investigation would take Canadian experience into account when developing hearing plans and submitting briefs.

Hannah McGlade, associate professor at Curtin Law School in Perth and a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Australia should look into the Canadian investigation to determine how best to proceed. his investigation.

It is truly terrible that the families of aboriginal women felt that they were not heard, that they were even more traumatized after the process and that the commissioners felt sufficiently aggrieved to withdraw.

A quote from Hannah McGlade, Associate Professor at Curtin Law School, Perth

The latter recently participated in a research project on indigenous feminicides for Deathscapes, an Australian Research Council project studying racialized violence.

Australia strongly denies this issue. Australia wants to think that it is a good country, and that the Aborigines easily complain, said McGlade.

Some skepticism

Family members of the missing and murdered women and children have expressed hope that the investigation may lead to change, but some remain skeptical.

Colleen Walker is one of three Indigenous youth from the town of Bowraville, NSW who went missing or were murdered over a five month period from 1990 to 1991.

Her mother, Muriel Craig, was involved in a state parliamentary inquiry into the Bowraville cases, but said it failed to achieve the level of change she was hoping for.

I had so many disappointments. I just feel like it got nowhere, she said.

I wish them luck and strength and hope they succeed, but I don’t think they will.

A quote from Muriel craig

When she reported to police that her 16-year-old daughter was missing, officers suggested she was gone. take a walksaid Ms Craig.

It was several months before the police took a statement regarding the disappearance of her daughter, she said. In 2016, the New South Wales Police Service apologized to the families of the Bowraville victims.

Senator Cox hopes the investigation will help shape a new national plan to reduce violence against Indigenous women and children and the indigenous people of the Torres Strait. Earlier this year, Australian Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston agreed to develop the plan in response to criticism that the existing federal plan was failing to reduce violence against Indigenous women.

From a text by Alicia Bridges, CBC News

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