Applications are now open for Aboriginal-led organisations and communities to apply for financial support for projects that tackle family violence in Aboriginal communities.
The Victorian Government said they are encouraging groups to apply for financial support for innovative projects that provide early response and prevention to family violence.
Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families, is an Aboriginal-led agreement to address family violence in Indigenous communities. It encourages First Nations communities and organisations to work with the government, as well as being accountable, to ensure communities are free from domestic violence.
It's supported by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (VACCHO).
"The Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum and its members are committed to Community-led responses to end family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," VACCHO said.
Applicants can receive up to $200,000 for projects that align with Dhelk Dja priorities.
Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Vicki Ward, said First Nations voices need to be leading the charge in combating family violence.
"This funding is driven by Aboriginal self-determination, supporting grassroots projects of innovation, strong partnerships and inclusiveness," Ms Ward said.
Indigenous groups have long championed Aboriginal-led responses to policy that impacts First Nations people directly. This is imperative in matters involving domestic and family violence, which continues to have a significant impact on First Nations communities.
A 2022 government report revealed the horrific statistics surrounding domestic violence in Aboriginal communities.
Two in five Aboriginal homicide victims were killed by a current or former partner, compared with one in five non-Aboriginal homicide victims; for Indigenous women, they are nearly 11 times more likely to die due to assault than non-Indigenous women.
The Aboriginal-led report highlighted a range of effective, Indigenous-led initiatives aimed at early-intervention and effective prevention. It contended longer-term funding offered certainty to the various Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) combating family violence.
This financial guarantee was supported by the Royal Commission into Family Voilence, which called for long-term funding whilst arguing the "full potential of Aboriginal community controlled organisations to prevent and respond to family violence has not been realised".
It also noted there is "a need to ensure Aboriginal people can choose whether to access Aboriginal or mainstream (non-Indigenous) services and to ensure ACCOs are able to support Aboriginal communities."
The latest Victorian budget allocated $31 million to maintain Aboriginal-led family and sexual violence service delivery. The government said in a statement the Dhelk Dja fund has supported 333 projects in Aboriginal communities across Victoria since 2014.
Applications close February 7, 2024. More information can be found on the Aboriginal Community Initiatives Fund website.