Senate to investigate deaths and disappearances of First Nations women and children

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Dorinda Cox moved for the Senate to inquire into missing and murdered First Nations women and children. (Supplied)

Greens senators Dorinda Cox and Lidia Thorpe have expressed hope an inquiry into murdered and missing First Nations women and children with be a step towards justice for grieving and overlooked families.

Senator Cox, a Yamatji-Noongar woman, secured the support of the Senate to establish a parliamentary inquiry which will examine the policing processes used in First Nations murder and missing persons investigations.

“It’s been 20 years in the making for me to be here and to provide this motion,” Senator Cox said.

“This is what happens when you have grassroots senators, First Nations people, here in the parliament, to bring important opportunities for the voices of the voiceless.”

The former WA police liaison officer said the inquiry would collect data across states and territories to assess the disparity in resources allocated to cases involving First Nations women and children.

“It will have a look at all of the investigative practices, policies, resources that are committed to create evidence and to gather evidence for these cases,” she said.

Senator Thorpe, a Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman, described the moment as historic, while recalling her own personal experience.

“Today is a day where First Nations women and children’s cries have finally been heard,” Senator Thorpe said.

“My cousin was dumped on the front lawn of her mother’s house dead by the perpetrator who killed her.

“And what did the police say? ‘They’re drunks.’ So what did that mean? No justice.

“That happened in Morwell, Victoria, about five years ago and no-one cares, no-one investigated and now my cousin is on the list to be investigated.”

Senator Thorpe thanked the government and Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston for supporting the motion.

“To all those black families out there that have wondered what happened, who still got no justice, this is for you,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 11 times more likely to die due to assault than non-Indigenous women and are hospitalised due to family violence-related assaults at 32 times the rate of non-Indigenous women.

The inquiry will look into the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Aboriginal women and children, and the underlying social, economic, cultural and institutional factors contributing to higher rates of violence, while also seeking to identify “concrete and effective” actions that can be taken to “remove system causes of violence”.

It will also assess the policies and support services that have been effective in reducing violence, including self-determined strategies and initiatives, and consider ways in which missing and murdered people can be honoured and commemorated.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, which will be conducting the inquiry, will be required to report back by June 30, 2022.

Source: Thanks