When the time came to consider the drafting of this Chapter this year, I was concerned to achieve a balance between what could be seen as the identification of another one of these dysfunctions and the need to address an issue that has serious implications for us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
I have had to think long and hard about being open and honest about the damage that lateral violence does in our communities; am I contributing to the further demonisation of our people?
There is a name for this sort of behaviour: lateral violence.
Lateral violence is often described as ‘internalised colonialism’ [T]he organised, harmful behaviours that we do to each other collectively as part of an oppressed group: within our families; within our organisations and; within our communities.
As I have consistently argued since becoming Social Justice Commissioner, real progress will only come from a basis of strong, respectful relationships.
This Chapter informs the conversation on lateral violence by providing an explanation, as well as examples, of lateral violence in our communities.
Addressing lateral violence will require significant courage, goodwill and determination but I think the gains will be immense.
While we continue to harm each other with lateral violence and while governments and industry operate in a way that fosters lateral violence, there will be little progress in improving the indicators that measure the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.
^Top Lateral violence, also known as horizontal violence or intra-racial conflict, is a product of a complex mix of historical, cultural and social dynamics that results in a spectrum of behaviours that include: Lateral violence is not just an individual’s behaviour.
It often occurs when a number of people work together to attack or undermine another individual or group.
The Social Justice Report 2011, in conjunction with the Native Title Report 2011, will start a conversation about lateral violence in our communities.