Every death in custody is a tragedy.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution and no single answer.
Through all the work I do as Minister for Indigenous Australians we’re working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates – these include health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia - the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents - this requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when States and Territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.
The relationship between Indigenous Australians and the police, both the good and the bad, in respective jurisdictions must also be examined.
The Morrison Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), is playing a key role in ensuring that there are additional protections in place for individuals when they are taken into custody through the Custody Notification System (CNS).
But we also need to remember that reducing the number of Indigenous people in contact with the justice system, through addressing the underlying factors that lead to offending, is just as key in addressing the number of deaths in custody.
So we should be looking at these things every day - that’s why we fund a range of activities to complement State and Territories to improve justice and community safety outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
It takes more than money - it takes commitment - it takes listening and understanding, and it takes us working together.
The Morrison Government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, it has been agreed that there will be justice targets contained within that agreement that focus on incarceration rates.
What’s important is that this Agreement has been developed in Partnership with Indigenous Australians and so we’re all working towards better outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
I will keep on working to empower Indigenous Australians - improve health, education and employment outcomes - and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in custody.