Online Project Showcase

The Aboriginal Women’s Sexual Assault Network “Hey Sis, I’ve got your back”

  • Organisation:

    Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia

  • ABN or Auspicing Organisation:

    58 023 656 939

  • Scope of Activity:


  • Geographic Location:


  • Target Groups:

    Rural / Regional

Funding Information

  • Total Funding Required (AUD):


  • Current Funding (AUD):


  • Funding Needed (AUD):


  • Tax Deductability Status (DGR):


  • Tax Concession Status (TCC):


  • DGR Additional Information:


  • Other Funding Partners:

    Neilson Foundation, Sky Foundation

Project Information

  • Project Commencement Date:
  • 01 Jan 2015
  • Project Completion Date:
  • 01 Dec 2017
  • What issues are addressed?:
  • The appalling levels of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and the lack of support for women who are working against it in their communities compel us to action.

    Aboriginal women are 38 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of assault and 10 times more likely to die from those assaults than non-Indigenous women (Burchfield & Braybrook 2009).

    Sexual assault is a significant threat to the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of Indigenous women and children, and their communities. The program will support those who are working to respond to and to reduce the rate of sexual assault in Aboriginal communities, and will address the resulting long-ranging impacts of community dysfunction, which include recurrent physical and sexual violence and use of alcohol and other drugs to manage the emotional and psychological impacts of these traumas
  • Project Description:
  • Sexual assault is a significant issue across all communities, however Indigenous women experience sexual assault at significantly higher rates than non-Indigenous women (Memmott P. Stacy, R. Chambers, C. & Keys, C. (2001) Violence in Indigenous Communities).

    The Aboriginal Women’s Sexual Assault Network, "Hey Sis, we've got your back", is developed and run by Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia in conjunction with 2 prominent Aboriginal women. We have over forty years experience in sexual assault counselling, support and project management. Our prevention programs are developed in partnership with academics, Aboriginal women and other experts. This project seeks to begin to address sexual assault as a threat to the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous communities by:

    - Supporting Indigenous women working in communities against sexual assault,

    - Developing culturally appropriate primary prevention initiatives to stop sexual assault in Indigenous communities
  • Alleviating suffering / disadvantage?:
  • The ultimate aim of the “Hey Sis” network is to alleviate the suffering of Aboriginal women who have experienced sexual assault,
    and more particularly, those who are supporting them in their recovery.

    Because in Indigenous communities the traumatic impacts of sexual assault are exacerbated by intergenerational trauma caused by
    the stolen generations and the destruction of Indigenous culture, trauma presentations are often complex. Impacts of complex trauma
    on an individual may include difficulty: developing and maintaining healthy relationships, self-regulating, responding to stress,
    thinking clearly, problem solving, self esteem and engagement in risky behaviours. Where a family or community is suffering the impacts
    of complex trauma, the impacts on the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of Indigenous people and their communities are
  • Changing Policy, Practices & Systems?:
  • The “Hey Sis, we’ve got your back” program supports leadership among women in indigenous communities. The Network provides a framework on which action to prevent sexual violence can be planned, resourced, implemented and evaluated. The program will increase community safety for Indigenous Australians, recognising the broader social benefits that community safety has on individual and community well-being, health, education and employment.

    The work of “Hey Sis”, is not simple nor is it short term. Preventing sexual assault is a long term objective, and one that the network acknowledges may take a generation. Therefore the goals and activities of the network according to the project plan currently span 30 years.

    To achieve a reduction in sexual assault of Aboriginal women and children and make their communities safer, a collaborative response within communities by community members which is resourced and supported by others is needed
  • Investing in or empowering women?:
  • The role of women in any community can be overlooked, misunderstood, invisible or disregarded; however, women in Aboriginal communities are often the ones who are motivated and active in protecting their children and grandchildren, themselves and their communities from sexual violence. They are invested in safety. By building on existing community structures and practices, interventions which support and resource Aboriginal women to assist those who have experienced sexual assault and to reduce sexual assault in their communities will have improved outcomes. In most Aboriginal communities there are one or a handful of brave ‘go to’ women who support victims and who stand up to prevent sexual assault. These are the leaders who need support so that they can in turn empower others.
  • Media / Promotion?:
  • The project recognises the importance of promoting via the media the issue of violence prevention in Indigenous communities and understands the need to use the media to within Aboriginal communities to assist with promoting the newtork to Aboriginal women, promoting discussion of the issues, and promiting participation in primary prevention initiatives as they are developed. For example, to date the media has been used to:

    - Promote the network to Aboriginal women through press releases and media contact re- network meetings, and:

    - Promote community discussion of the issues by pitching and promoting relevant issues concerning our work within indigenous communities and the Hey Sis Network. The project will do this through selected media a regular fortnightly spot on Koori Radio 93.7FM in a national timeslot going out to all community radio stations through the National Indigenous Radio Service, an article for the Koori Mail and an opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald
  • How is success evaluated / measured?:
  • 1. Indigenous women feel more supported in their work with sexual assault survivors:
    Examine the attendance of and feedback provided at regional network meetings that facilitate constructive yarning and peer-to-peer support in working against sexual assault.
    2. Indigenous women are better able to manage their own Vicarious Trauma:
    Evaluate their understanding of the principles of and the prevalence of vicarious trauma management plans among Indigenous women.
    3. Indigenous women experience a reduction in their symptoms of trauma and vicarious trauma:
    Review the patterns of vicarious trauma measures demonstrated by the women’s responses to valid and reliable psychometric measures, and their use of 24/7 telephone support for trauma specialist counselling, debrief and clinical consultation.
    4. Indigenous women have greater capacity to support people impacted by sexual assault:
    Analyse their participation in professional development training

Contact Information

  • Contact Person:

    Susan Johnston

  • Email:

  • Website:

    Click Here

  • Phone:

    02 8585 0346