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(AUSTRALIA) In Memory Of Respected anti-domestic violence campaigner remembered at vigil in Alice Springs who was involved in an alleged domestic violence incident in January of 2021: #AceNewsDesk report

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#AceNewsReport – Mar.11: In a speech just metres away from where Ms Rubuntja lost her life outside the Alice Springs Hospital, Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group (TWFSG) co-ordinator Shirleen Campbell urged the hundreds of attendees to remember her friend as a woman who made a difference, not just as a statistic:

Respected anti-domestic violence campaigner remembered at vigil in Alice Springs: ‘An emotional vigil has been held for R Rubuntja, the 46-year-old anti-domestic violence advocate who was allegedly murdered in an alleged domestic violence incident in Alice Springs in January this year’

WARNING: ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died’

Posted 1h ago

Play Video. Duration: 33 seconds
The video included an emotional speech from Shirleen Campbell of the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group.

“We are not just numbers, we are not invisible women,” she said.

“Our sister, another one lost to us, is not just a number and we will not let her be invisible.”

Northern Territory police allege 49-year-old Malcolm Abbott, who they say was known to Ms Rubuntja, drove a vehicle at the 46-year-old in what they have called a domestic violence incident outside the Alice Springs Hospital in January this year.

She suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Woman sitting with green background
R Rubuntja was a staunch anti-domestic violence advocate for women and children in Alice Springs. Image used with permission of family(Supplied: Tangentyere Stories of Hope and Healing documentary.)

Mr Abbott has since been charged with one count of murder and three driving offences.

He has faced court once and the matter will return to the Alice Springs local court on May 8.

Shirleen Campbell’s speech, which was delivered in the midst of a steady, sorrowful wailing of Ms Rubuntja’s friends and family, recounted the impact Ms Rubuntja made before she died. 

“She helped organise and marched with us back in 2017, when we held the biggest women’s march against violence in Alice Springs,” Ms Campbell said.

“She was up there, shouting ‘no more violence, no more violence’.

“When we decided we needed to go to Canberra in 2017 to take our message to Parliament House, she was very happy and excited, speaking up and speaking truth to the politicians and the decision makers.”

A group of mourners walking at a public vigil.
About 200 mourners attended the vigil in Alice Springs to pay their respects.(ABC News: Oliver Gordon)

Ms Rubuntja’s death is being recognised across the country today, including within Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). 

ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow said the organisation had worked alongside Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group, the group that Ms Rubuntja co-founded. 

“We express our deepest condolences to the Alice Springs community and particularly to the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group,” she said.

The domestic violence researcher said evidence from ANROWS showed that supporting Aboriginal-led anti-violence organisations such as TWFSG worked.

Dr Nancarrow highlighted that at the 2018 National Summit of Violence Against Women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women called for the development of a separate national plan to reduce violence against Indigenous women and children, and said evidence suggested that would be a positive step. 

“I would definitely say that the evidence produced by ANROWS and other research organisations would support the development of a separate plan, given the particular circumstances and the needs for place-based, Indigenous-led prevention and response initiatives.”

Two women put flowers on a fence as part of the vigil.
Flowers were fastened to fences as mourners remembered the respected anti-domestic violence campaigner.(ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)

On the eve of Ms Rubuntja’s funeral, the NT Minister and Member for the Central Australian seat of Gwoja, Chansey Paech, also paid tribute.

“Today’s proceedings have been very upsetting for a number of people right across Central Australia as we prepare to say goodbye to a dear loved one tomorrow,” he said.

“But what it highlights is the amount of work that still needs to be done in the family and domestic violence space.

“[Domestic and family violence] is a disease that infects people. And we need to stand together as a community, as a Territory and as a nation and call this out and work to reduce the horrific rates of family violence that we’re seeing across this country.”

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Mar.11: 2021:

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