What’s in a name? Lateral violence within the Aboriginal community in Adelaide, South Australia

Yvonne Clark, Martha Augoustinos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article presents a thematic analysis of the naming and framing of lateral violence within the Aboriginal community in Adelaide, South Australia. Lateral violence is a relatively under researched area within the Aboriginal community, yet this term has been applied with little consultation. Interviews with 30 Aboriginal participants examining their understandings of lateral violence identified five themes relevant to the labelling and acceptance of the term `lateral violence'. By drawing on theories of oppression, social representations, stigma and racism many of the themes indicate the importance and relevance of an overarching label of lateral violence to describe the ``infighting{''} behaviours that have been normalised within the Aboriginal community. Assurance of a label makes the concept of lateral violence tangible and therefore able to be addressed. Despite this labelling, awareness of the concept of lateral violence in Adelaide appears relatively low. Resistance and opposition from the Aboriginal community to lateral violence appear to be associated with the stigma and prejudice attached to `violence'. Such a word can potentially render all Aboriginal people as intrinsically violent and therefore blameworthy, which can alleviate any responsibility for dealing with this chronic problem in broader society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Psychological Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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