The fact that imprisonment rates have increased markedly since the royal commission shows Australia has failed to build a just relationship with First Nations peoples. It is a deep national shame.
For 30 years we have urged Australian governments to implement all the recommendations made by the royal commission. We have long held the solutions and countless inquires and reports have given us the way forward. But time and again we fail to effectively implement them, and as a result we continue to see First Nations men, women and children dying in our so-called justice system.
The mass incarceration of First Nations Australians is driven by systemic and structural problems within the justice system and beyond it. Until this changes – until we see diversionary programs and justice reinvestment replacing mass incarceration – the grave injustice of Indigenous deaths in custody will continue.
I know there is genuine desire for change across the justice system. But this change requires courageous leadership from governments to drive systems reform. It is time governments entered into genuine, trusting and just partnerships with our peoples to finally address and overcome this crisis.