Members statement: First Nations Justice
As we end this term of Parliament, while acknowledging the work we have done, we must acknowledge our unfinished work. Last week another First Nations person died in custody in Victoria. That is the second Aboriginal person to die within just the last few weeks, on top of the 500 that have died since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Our bare laws and criminal justice system are killing First Nations people in Victoria. It has to stop. When the systems we use disproportionately harm some people in our communities, we must dismantle the systemic prejudice and racism that are the cause. Yet instead of using this term of Parliament to fix our bare laws and stop the overincarceration of First Nations people, this government is opening up new prisons, and instead of raising the age of criminal responsibility to stop 10-year-old children—disproportionately First Nations children—from being harassed by the police and taken into custody, this government hid the bill that could have implemented this change. Instead of fixing the broken youth justice system that abuses the human rights of our young people, the government prioritised six law and order bills to look tough on crime.
The work of treaty is groundbreaking in Victoria, but it is not just in the future; it is now and cannot be used as cover for inaction that sees First Nations people being locked up and killed by our so-called justice system. Decolonisation does not look like this, and it certainly does not look like removing a First Nations Woiwurrung name for a hospital to rename it in honour of a foreign monarch, erasing one of the few references we have to First Nations language in this state. This is recolonisation, not treaty.