Deathscapes

Girls and Children: Stages of Institutional Violence 4g - Racist Bullying Kills

Deathscapes

Racist Bullying Kills

A quote from June Oscar overlayed on a photo from a Black Lives Matter protest. The quote reads, 'The constant exposure to racism in our daily lives, in the media, hearing it in our parliament, dealing with it every day undermines our sense of self. It can erode self-worth, and our confidence in engaging in the world around us. It certainly contributes to collective feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness that leads to far too many of our people taking their lives. The experts are telling us that racism is a factor in the suicide crisis gripping our communities.'

[imagecaption] Quote: June Oscar. Background Photo: Charandev Singh. Black Lives Matter Protest, Narrm. [/imagecaption]

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Following her 2019 nationwide consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls for the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project, June Oscar, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, found that, ‘in the same breath as they told me about their strengths and dreams’  the girls also told ‘stories of constant bullying from classmates whose insults were heavy with racist sentiments’.

The lethal effects of racist bullying are evident in the case of Rochelle Pryor, a 14 year-old school girl at Fremantle College, who was found unconscious after sending her friends a message, ‘Once I’m gone, the bullying and the racism will stop’.  She was hospitalised and died nine days later.

She was the fifth indigenous girl in the country to die by suicide in a nine-day period in January 2019.

Although the causes of these deaths are complex, racist bullying looms as a significant factor among the forms of violence that assail Indigenous girls and young women.


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