Missing, murdered and incarcerated Indigenous women in Australia: A literature review

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Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS)

Caution: Some people may find parts of this content confronting or distressing. Recommended support services include 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline (13 11 14) and, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 13YARN (13 92 76).

This document presents a review of the Australian literature (“the review”) on missing, murdered and incarcerated Indigenous women in Australia.

This review was written at the invitation of, and in partnership with, Associate Professor Hannah McGlade, Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In 2024, Associate Professor Hannah McGlade will be submitting a series of communiques, named Seven Sisters, to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Seven Sisters communiques draw on seven cases of Indigenous women who have disappeared, been murdered or wrongfully incarcerated over the past 3 decades. The literature review is supplied alongside of, and in support of, this work.

Key messages emerging from the review include:

  • Research is lacking. Only seven sources of robust research met inclusion criteria for this review. While a comprehensive dataset on actual figures does not exist, information from various sources indicates missing, murdered and wrongfully incarcerated women number in the hundreds, if not thousands, across Australia.
  • The work of credible and authoritative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors is often neglected and ignored. As a result, authors often have to also invest and engage in advocacy work to be heard.
  • Services are failing First Nations women. Service system responses across all sources were described as inadequate, unjust, non-compliant and perpetuating the racist stereotypes of Indigenous women as addicts and violent.

The literature review recommends:

  • urgent investment in dedicated resourcing and institutional support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research on missing, murdered and incarcerated Indigenous women in Australia
  • the adoption of an intersectional approach and framework of human rights violations and genocide (similar to a Canadian model) to provide new insights and strengthen the evidence base.


Missing, murdered and incarcerated Indigenous women in Australia: A literature review
Bevan, C., Lloyd, J., & McGlade, H.
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With the exception of the ANROWS branding, content provided by third parties, and any material protected by a trademark, all material presented in this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Australia (CC BY-NC 3.0 AU) licence.