• Delegates sit at the opening of the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva (AAP)Source: AAP
One of the most eminent experts working in the family violence sector used a speech to advocate for Aboriginal women behind bars.
Shahni Wellington

28 Jun 2019 - 5:00 PM  UPDATED 28 Jun 2019 - 5:00 PM

Antoinette Braybrook, a Kuku Yalanji woman and CEO of the Aboriginal family violence prevention and legal service Djirra, has delivered a passionate address to the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland. 

Ms Braybrook called for the Australian government to be pressured to address the country's disproportionate incarceration rates of Indigenous women.

“Our women are imprisoned at 21 times the rate [of] other women,” she said.

“We make up 34 per cent of the female prison population, but comprise only 2.2 per cent of the Australian female population.”

“I call on the Human Rights Council to hold the Australian government accountable for the discriminatory incarceration of our people, [and] urge our government to move away from tough on crime and law and order approaches.”

The sentiments were echoed by June Oscar, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice commissioner, who also spoke at the UN Human Rights Council and opened an art exhibition featuring work by Indigenous women and girls.

The address came 24 hours after Victoria Coroner agreed to consider whether systemic racism played a role in the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day.

Ms Braybrook said it was her hope that the Australian government would "stop locking up our people" and "taking our mothers."

“We must abolish laws that target our people, including the law of public drunkenness in Victoria and Queensland,” she told the council.

“Our women are overwhelmingly imprisoned for non-violent offences related to poverty and homelessness.”