• Bill Shorten asks Australia, 'why are there so many Aboriginal kids in custody?' (AAP)Source: AAP
Shorten stated that the ABC’s Four Corners program last Monday night had Australia witnessing a low point in the nation’s justice system.
By
Sophie Verass

31 Jul 2016 - 4:34 PM  UPDATED 1 Aug 2016 - 7:16 AM

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten addressed the Garma Festival this morning, solidifying his support to have Indigenous people at the head of the upcoming Royal Commission and expressing some powerful imagery to wider Australia – how would you feel if it was your child?

Shorten stated that the ABC’s Four Corners program last Monday night had Australia witnessing a low point in the nation’s justice system.

“Australian justice can never be a 14-year-old boy hooded, strapped and restrained in chair. It is a disgrace,” he said.

Shorten labelled the current child protection system ‘a failure’ and was concerned of the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal children in custody over non-Indigenous. 

“Australian justice can never be a 14-year-old boy hooded, strapped and restrained in chair. It is a disgrace.”

As many Australians watched the young people of our nation – our next industry professionals, parents and community members  – being tear gassed, stripped and physically restrained, the public have voiced anger and confusion of how this problematic behaviour ended up being released through a television exposé and not from Government action.  

Shorten too couldn’t understand why such reports were first ignored by the current Government, but said that the late reveal, at the very least, has initiated attention to wider Australia. He is confident that non-Indigenous citizens will become aware of the lack of Indigenous rights and welfare in Australia. 

"If nothing else this week, it forced many non-Aboriginal Australians to ask ourselves the most basic human question. How would I feel if that was my child I was witnessing being treated like that?"

He called for recognition of the inability that Aboriginal families have to protect their children when their young are in a system of disadvantage.  

"Jail should not be considered a rite of passage for young Aboriginal men because this country lacks the alternatives."

"Jail should not be considered a rite of passage for young Aboriginal men because this country lacks the alternatives."

Shorten said that his Labor Party is ‘gravely concerned’ of the lack of respect toward Aboriginal people by a failure to consult and said that Australia needs an Aboriginal person working on the Royal Commission with the current Liberal Government.

He said that there are Indigenous people on ground making a difference everyday; rangers, teachers, health workers, business people and Aboriginal parents trying to pass onto their kids a life better than they were born into.

"We need Aboriginal voices at this Royal Commission.

"Not just telling their stories as victims, not just giving evidence of the abuse, but as people in charge ...

"We won’t achieve anything in the Commission, in my opinion, unless people with the stories to tell are telling it to commissioners who are Aboriginal and understand.

"The power of the solution can only come by empowering the people."

 


 

 

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