The judicial system in Australia targets Indigenous people more than any other group. Indigenous people are racially profiled, are killed in custody and are more likely to receive custodial sentences than their non-Indigenous counterparts. In fact, Indigenous people in Australia have higher incarceration rates than during apartheid South Africa. We continue to gaol Indigenous people for non-payment of parking fines as a result of mandatory sentencing that was instituted to target this very group of people within society.
Putting face to the many loving and intact Aboriginal families and engaged and active #IndigenousDads is necessary to reject Leak’s caricature of us, equally we need to find a way to talk about some sad realities beyond the reach of the Bill Leaks of the world and beyond the reach of those who fight with or against him over the top of us.
Last Monday night, the ABC’s 4 Corners program directed the nation’s attention to the horrific violations occurring within the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system. A series of leaked images taken from inside the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre revealed that Aboriginal boys as young as 13 had endured forms of torture comparable to the abuses committed against inmates of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
I have been a barrister now for five years and I have worked in various courts for over a decade. I’m one of only about a dozen Indigenous Australians practicing as a barrister in Australia and during my career I have defended a number of Indigenous children in criminal matters.