Pain of Aboriginal men abused by their women By Corey Sinclair
Tony Linn co-ordinator of Ingkintja Men’s Health.
DOMESTIC violence against men is just as common as it is for women in some Aboriginal communities.
But Aboriginal men are hesitant to speak up because they fear being “shame jobs”.
Former Pioneer footballer Geoffrey Miller says there is a lack of services in Central Australia that can effectively deal with these issues men face.
“When I was working with DASA (Drug & Alcohol Services Association), it was the main problem we had,” he said.
“Women have their own legal aid and shelter — it’s all in place, but for men — there’s no shelter.
“What we used to call the men’s shelter was the prison cause that was the only place to go, even if it’s not their fault.
“If they stepped off their track, they ended up in prison — not a shelter.”
Miller, who previously won a Prime Minister’s Award for providing excellence in service to the community, said a men’s shelter would address a lot of issues that happen in town, like the anti-social behaviour and drinking in the streets.
“When men get kicked out of a home, the worst thing is they walk around the streets and get themselves in that position again,” he said.
“If they had a shelter to go to, they could spend a night there and they’d find where some of the anger in these men are coming from.
“That’s where the big downfall is when they get depressed, they have nowhere to go.
“There’s little things no one has spent time to assess.”
Miller believes the root of the problem is the shift in Aboriginal culture from the men being the bread earners to the women.
“Back in the old days, men were the head of the family but nowadays, that’s taken away from them with pensions and not enough jobs,” he said.
“Men feel lower cause they’re not getting the income his wife is getting, and some wives or partners can be really nasty in that aspect.
“They keep them in their place cause they know they can.
“The men, a lot of the time, will stay cause there’s kids involved or they have nowhere to go.”
But the problem is not just restricted to Aboriginal men.
Miller knows a lot of white men going through similar problems.
“It’s across the board,” he said.
Congress’ Ingkintja Men’s Health’s senior psychologist Max Yffer said they often see men who are victims of interpersonal violence.
“The vast majority are women but it is very difficult for all people to come forward, and that is true across the whole community — not just Aboriginal people,” he said.
“But particularly with Aboriginal people, there is a very strong sense of shame.”
Some of the men who are referred to Mr Yffer as offenders or as the protagonist will often say their female partners had a go at them as well.
“I think there is a broader problem of men feeling a bit lost in their role in society, particularly some men who are caught between a couple of different cultures,” he said.
“Not wanting to steer away from their traditional culture and become more urbanised.”
Mr Yffer agrees that a men’s shelter would be beneficial for Alice Springs.
“It’s something that is talked about a lot,” he said.
“There is the Salvation Army’s men’s hostel but it’s not quite the same as the women’s shelter.
“It doesn’t have quite the same protective aura the women’s shelter does so I think there is definitely a need for a place for men to feel safer.”
Domestic violence related assault in Alice Springs rose 15.2 per cent in 2013.
It is believed one in three victims of family violence and abuse are male.
A study by Edith Cowan University (ECU) confirmed that abused men have almost no services to help them despite also suffering from physical, emotional, verbal, sexual financial and social abuse like women.