Recently I attended a training event which focused strongly on family and domestic violence, the area in which I am employed. The Victorian Government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence was referenced a lot and it is good to see so many of the recommendations being put into practice in a timely manner. It is of my understanding, that with the Royal Commission in mind, the Victorian Andrews Labor government is well aware of what an unhealthy, abusive, controlling relationship is and the long-term and in some cases fatal impacts these behaviours/actions have on vulnerable individuals across the world.
The Victorian Government’s website explains that family violence is not limited to physical or sexual abuse, it includes emotional abuse and any threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour. Where there is an imbalance of power, the likelihood of falling victim to a violent, unhealthy relationship increases.
In this training, my mind subconsciously kept linking the feelings associated with an abusive relationship, to the feelings I am currently feeling as a Djab Wurrung woman fighting to protect sacred country in Western Victoria. As I sat in the room full of people at this training, I had this overwhelming realisation that I as a Djab Wurrung woman am in an abusive relationship with the Victorian Andrews Labor government and in that moment I felt this cold, chilling feeling.
I feel unheard, have they heard our voices over the 15 months of protest and protecting? I feel controlled and threatened, the Victorian governments threats to destroy sacred cultural sites are Real. Threats. This government is creating division and using divisive tactics, through colluding with Eastern Marr, Martang, Major Roads Projects Victoria and other related parties. It is simple to me, this government ticks every single box.
I have had nightmares and panic attacks, I am seeing and feeling the emotional impact this drawn out abusive relationship is having on my aunties, uncles, sisters and brothers. There are good days and bad days, like most abusive relationships.
Worse yet, there is even a ‘Honey-Moon Period’ in this abusive relationship and that is the Andrews Labor governments current treaty agenda.
Although I don’t feel comfortable with the relationship I am in with the Andrews Labor government, I still hold hope in that treaty/treaties may provide the hope that my people and I so desperately need. Feeling conflicted, UN-trusting, and controlled, I made the uneasy decision to stand as a candidate for the Treaty Assembly, falling victim to the honey-moon period, hoping that my values and beliefs as a sovereign, grassroots woman create a change in the relationship. Time will only tell.
Despite all of this, I withhold feelings of strength and feel staunch in this fight to protect. My spirit is continuously open to receiving the endless strength Djab Wurrung country penetrates into me. Our ancestors didn’t get us this far for no reason. I have connected with Djab Wurrung country like never before, I have connected with people from all over the country at the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy. I have seen the smiling faces of our kids running round on country, sitting round the fire. I have had the best cups of tea, cold cups of coffee, felt the rain and the hot sun.
Above all, I believe we are all witnessing history, where people are uniting together to call out abusive, controlling, power hungry behaviours being committed towards Djab Wurrung country and people. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to protect.