Powerful 10-year partnership launched

CEREMONIOUS EVENT… Bangerang Cultural Centre manager, Clint Edwards leads the Bangerang Dance Group in a traditional dance. Photo: Katelyn Morse.
CEREMONIOUS EVENT… Bangerang Cultural Centre manager, Clint Edwards leads the Bangerang Dance Group in a traditional dance. Photo: Katelyn Morse.

A SPECIAL event took place on Monday at the Queens Gardens for an official regional launch to acknowledge and thank the work of the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum (formerly Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum). The event recognised with gratitude the continued efforts in ensuring the local Aboriginal community has access to leading family violence support services.

Dhelk Dja (pronounced ‘delk ja’) are the Dja Dja Wurrung words meaning ‘good place’. Dhelk Dja is the foremost, Aboriginal-led Victorian Agreement that commits the signatories – Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal services and government – to work together and be accountable for ensuring that Aboriginal people, families and communities are stronger, safer, thriving and living free from family violence.

Dhelk Dja recognises the urgent need to reduce the disproportionate impact of family violence on Aboriginal people, particularly women and children. It is integral to the agreement that accountability for perpetrators of violence is recognised and reprimanded accordingly, with education and prevention a central focus. The agreement also recognises that family violence is not a part of Aboriginal culture and that family violence against Aboriginal people is perpetrated by both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people.

Dhelk Dja articulates the long-term partnership and directions required at a state-wide, regional and local level, to ensure that Aboriginal communities are violence-free and are built upon the foundation of Aboriginal self-determination. The Dhelk Dja slogan – ‘Safe Our Way: Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families’ – represents this vision, ensuring Aboriginal leaders, communities and spokespeople are central to the continued execution of the agreement.

In essence, Aboriginal spokespeople must remain critically involved in all processes and services to reduce family violence and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people and children. In order for this to work, Aboriginal spokespeople must be present across all services; police, the justice system and the courts; housing and homelessness services; children and family services; child protection and out-of-home care; and health, mental health and substance abuse.

At Monday’s ceremony, the Hume Dhelk Dja Action Groups regional chairperson and Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Alice Solomon spoke proudly of her continued efforts in assisting the Aboriginal community throughout her years of service.

Aunty Alice said, “Across Victoria, there are 11 Dhelk Dja Action Groups, each implementing community-led responses to family violence. The Action Groups act as a critical conduit for children, families and communities.

“It is with great pride that we continue to represent the interests of the local Aboriginal community.”

At the ceremony, guests were treated to a traditional smoking ceremony, traditional dances and song. Handcrafted message sticks were also handed over to the AFL Goulburn Murray and Kyabram District Football Netball League for their continued efforts in championing the Hume Dhelk Dja Action Group.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, phone 1800 RESPECT (on 1800 737 732) for advice or support. This free service provides confidential advice 24/7. In an emergency, phone 000. All incidents of violence should be reported.