Project Title

The Silence Everyone Talks About: Media representations of violence against Aboriginal women

Description

While the issue of family violence has received widespread attention in recent years, there is still a perceived silence around violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women. This alleged silence is used as a weapon against Aboriginal communities, undermining their agency and acts of resistance, while reiterating the ongoing colonial narrative of Aboriginal women as disposable and unworthy of justice.

The media plays a key role in determining worthy victims from the unworthy, but does little to interrogate how this in itself is a form of violence. Violence is framed as being a problem within community, but which is of concern to those outside of the community, and media representations of this violence are tailored to the white gaze, stripping the problem of its complexity and denying Aboriginal women a voice. Non-Indigenous Australians are seen as the arbiters of morality, while Aboriginal people are framed as infantile, uncaring, and interested in ideological pursuits rather than the safety of women and children. The framing of the issue as a whole-of-community problem also means that white perpetrators are often ignored, and the Aboriginal women who are victims to their brutality, are further marginalised. Meanwhile, Aboriginal women often feel conflicted due to the way the violence perpetrated against us is misused to further colonial portrayals of Aboriginal men as violent and savage.    

This thesis will look to further develop an Aboriginal feminism to examine issues of violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women. It will interrogate how violence and trauma intersect in the lived experiences of Aboriginal women, and the media’s role in supporting and compounding this violence in a settler-colonial society that has marked Aboriginal women as disposable. It will not be a response to white feminism, but will aim to further our own Indigenous feminism as a tool to advocate for our women.

Supervision

A/Prof Elizabeth Strakosch, Dr Chelsea Bond, A/Prof Jon Willis

Researcher biography

Amy McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton in Central Queensland. She has 12 years experience working across a range of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal media organisations, most recently for BuzzFeed Australia. Her writing has centred largely around the brutality within the justice system. She has an enduring interest in how the media covers violence within Aboriginal communities.