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Not enough done to tackle Indigenous abuse, v -

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Not enough done to tackle Indigenous abuse, violence: author

Broadcast: 06/03/2007

Reporter: Jo McKenna

Australian author Louis Nowra has written a book documenting epidemic levels of sexual abuse and
domestic violence in Indigenous communities.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: One of Australia's most celebrated writers, Louis Nowra has felt compelled
to take on one of our nation's most controversial issues. His latest book 'Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal
Men's Violence Against Women and Children' to be published tomorrow, focuses on what he sees as
epidemic levels of sexual abuse and domestic violence in indigenous communities and he warns if
nothing is done they'll be on a nightmare-ish treadmill to cultural oblivion. In a moment he will
join us here in a studio. First Jo McKenna brings us up to date on the issue.

JO MCKENNA: In the town camps of Alice Springs, poverty, alienation and alcohol can produce
devastating results but an escalation in violence in the past two weeks has shaken this central
Australian community.

DARWIN NEWSREADER: Police in Alice Springs have arrest add 36-year-old man for bashing and sexually
assaulting his wife in a town camp in the early hours of Saturday morning.

JO MCKENNA: Police say it was the fourth serious domestic assault in Alice Springs in less than a
fortnight. In other incidents, a young woman was stabbed to death allegedly by her husband. Another
was alleged to have been beaten by her husband until police intervened. While a third was allegedly
sexually assaulted by her ex-husband while he hit her over the head with a rock.

DET SNR SGT MICHAEL MURPHY, ALICE SPRINGS POLICE: The violence against women and children, and
obviously other males in different circumstances, just has to stop.

JO MCKENNA: Last year Alice Springs Crown prosecutor Nanette Rogers was so concerned about violence
in central Australia she revealed on Lateline shocking instances of sexual abuse against women,
children and even babies.

DR NANETTE ROGERS, CROWN PROSECUTOR FOR CENTRAL AUSTRALIA: Horrible offences committed on really
small children. It's beyond most people's comprehension and range of human experience.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Now you might expect these kind of incidents to literally tear apart a
community but it's my understanding from what you've written that there is a kind of malaise in
these communities that prevents that from happening. These incidents are taking as facts of life
rather than things which would, in a way, cause the entire place to look at itself and change.

DR NANETTE ROGERS, CROWN PROSECUTOR FOR CENTRAL AUSTRALIA: Yes, and I think the reason for that
malaise is mostly because of the entrenchment of violence in the whole of the community.

JO MCKENNA: The revelations provoked a national outcry but it was a personal visit to Alice Springs
in 2005 that prompted acclaimed author Louis Nowra to write his new book 'Bad Dreaming'.

LOUIS NOWRA, AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT: I thought that somebody should actually speak out, especially a
man, and say this is wrong, we are destroying the future of these children.

JO MCKENNA: Louis Nowra grew up on a Melbourne housing commission estate and had first-hand
experience of domestic abuse as a child. Now he's turned his attention to the Aboriginal community
saying domestic violence and sexual abuse of women, as well as girls and boys, is getting worse.

LOUIS NOWRA, AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT: I want to raise the issue. I want to give a factual account of
what's actually happening. If people want to pick on me that's absolutely fine. If I or the book
can make a little bit of a difference and people go we must do something for these women, we must
do something for these children, then that's the best thing that could happen. I don't care what
people say about me. I've never cared.

[SCENE FROM 'RADIANCE']

JO MCKENNA: Louis Nowra has had a long-standing interest in indigenous people often working with
Aboriginal artists and actors. A decade ago he wrote 'Radiance', a story about three sister, one of
whom reveals the horror of sexual abuse.

WOMAN IN 'RADIANCE': You were born from dirt. Your father was dirt. He never raped her. He raped
me.

JO MCKENNA: In his latest work, Louis Nowra drew on historical research, media reports and his own
personal experience for his shattering account. It's already prompted an angry outburst from a
prominent Aboriginal academic.

PROF JUDY ATKINSON, SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY: It seems to be perpetrating across Australia at the
moment that all Aboriginal men are violent, all Aboriginal men are aggressive, all Aboriginal men
rape children. That is not true.

JO MCKENNA: Professor Judy Atkinson who heads the College of Indigenous Australian Peoples at
Southern Cross University says violence and sexual abuse exists in the white and black community
and more must be done to stop it.