Law, Culture and Decolonisation: The Perspectives of Aboriginal Elders on Family Violence in Australia

Harry Blagg, Victoria Hovane, Tamara Tulich, Donella Raye, Suzie May, Thomas Worrigal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Family violence within Aboriginal communities continues to attract considerable scholarly, governmental and public attention in Australia. While rates of victimization are significantly higher than non-Aboriginal rates, Aboriginal women remain suspicious of the ‘carceral feminism’ remedy, arguing that family violence is a legacy of colonialism, systemic racism, and the intergenerational impacts of trauma, requiring its own distinctive suite of responses, ‘uncoupled’ from the dominant feminist narrative of gender inequality, coercive control and patriarchy. We conclude that achieving meaningful reductions in family violence hinges on a decolonizing process that shifts power from settler to Aboriginal structures. Aboriginal peoples are increasingly advocating for strengths-based and community-led solutions that are culturally safe, involve Aboriginal justice models, and recognises the salience of Aboriginal Law and Culture. This paper is based on qualitative research in six locations in northern Australia where traditional patterns of Aboriginal Law and Culture are robust Employing a decolonising methodology, we explore the views of Elders in these communities regarding the existing role of Law and Culture, their criticisms of settler law, and their ambitions for a greater degree of partnership between mainstream and Aboriginal law. The paper advances a number of ideas, based on these discussions, that might facilitate a paradigm shift in theory and practice regarding intervention in family violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-558
Number of pages24
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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