NATSILS have publicly criticised the investment of $300 million headed to the Australian Federal Police after the federal budget failed to provide support to Indigenous legal services or address Indigenous deaths in custody or Closing The Gap.
A post to social media , which was reposted in support by NATSILS Executive Officer Roxanne Moore, said Aboriginal-led solutions and prevention was required to support Indigenous communities to rebuild post COVID19, rather than additional policing.
Ms Moore told NITV News that the lack of funding to address Closing The Gap or Indigenous deaths in custody was “deeply unsettling” and caused her to question whether black lives mattered to the Australian federal government.
“We are the most incarcerated people in the world, and we have had five deaths in custody since June, but they couldn’t find a single dollar to invest in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander legal services or closing the gap," she said.
“The government is failing to commit to the support we know our community needs to end this, because it is clearly not a priority.”
The additional investment in policing goes against the public health response that NATSILS and other organisations have called for and has sparked fear that it will have a detrimental impact on incarceration rates and justice targets.
Ms Moore said that this “carceral” response will only push Indigenous people further into the justice system, at a time when the wellbeing of all people should be paramount.
“The response has been to police this pandemic rather than implement public health responses, we are really concerned about the data which shows that Indigenous people have been disproportionately impacted by over policing in NSW and Victoria," said Ms Moore.
“Aboriginal communities and organisations have been successful at using self-determination to prevent a single Aboriginal death from COVID19, why isn’t the government listening?”