Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson has condemned the recent violent attack on Gunditjmara, Kirrae Whurrong and Djab Wurrung woman and former Assembly Member Sissy Austin.
Ms Austin was assaulted when jogging through the Lal Lal State Forest, near Ballarat last Saturday afternoon.
Aunty Geraldine said she shook with rage when she heard that Ms Austin was subjected to the violent attack while running through Country.
“Sissy was just minding her own business, running through Country, only to be subjected to this cowardly, violent attack,” Aunty Geraldine said.
“Women, and particularly First Nations women, can often experience discrimination, abuse and violence as they simply try to live their lives.”
Aunty Geraldine noted that Aboriginal women and girls are far more likely to be victims of violence and crime. Between July 2017 and June 2019, First Nations women were 27 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be hospitalised for assault.
“This is unacceptable. We cannot let violence against women and members of our Community go unchecked. This must stop for our women.”
Aunty Geraldine said Sissy had been a powerful voice for her Community during her time on the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, as well as more broadly.
“Sissy has been a fearless activist for her people. I am in awe of Sissy’s strength in getting herself back to her car and to care and safety.
“At our meeting today, Assembly Members and I are all thinking of Sissy and her family, friends and Community.
“We hope that she has a full and swift recovery, and that the person responsible is found and held accountable. I’m confident Sissy will continue to be a powerful voice for her community.”
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