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Members Statement: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): Black lives matter, Indigenous lives matter, and I acknowledge in speaking on this issue there is actually no Indigenous person in this place to do the same. The murder of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a police officer in Minneapolis, USA, has turned the world’s attention to Black Lives Matter and the need to address racism, systemic racism and the need for criminal justice reform.

The situation here in Victoria is damning. There are more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in jail than ever before in Victoria’s history. The rate of Indigenous incarceration in Victoria is astronomical. Indigenous deaths in custody are still occurring, and this did not happen by happenstance. This is a direct result of the so-called tough law and order policies that have been introduced by successive governments that are actually toughest on those people who commit relatively minor crimes, if crimes at all, and those who are disadvantaged. The rate of Indigenous incarceration has doubled over the past 10 years in Victoria, and things have not gotten better under this government, they have been getting worse. And now they are having to spend billions on billions of dollars on more prisons. In response to Black Lives Matter, Victoria needs criminal justice reform to stop the mass incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.