Australians are rightly horrified for, and supportive of, those protesting over policy brutality in the US. But we have a long and shameful history of violence and genocide against the First Nations people of this country that we should reflect on. They are incarcerated, killed in custody or prison, and marginalised to a degree that would have people rioting if it happened to those descended from settlers.
In 1991 the findings of a royal commission into Indigenous deaths in custody was handed down. Since then over 400 more Indigenous deaths in custody have occurred, and no police officer has been convicted in relation to these deaths. The number of deaths in custody increased by 150% after the royal commission. Indigenous people in Australia are the most incarcerated people on earth, based on their population ratio.
Add all this to the annual shame of the Closing the Gap report, where each year the Prime Minister has to table a report showing how little progress this nation has made in closing the gap on Indigenous health targets, and it’s too easy to conclude that the genocide begun by the first settlers is still in progress 230 years later.
We have an opportunity to fix this though. Through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the First Nations people of this country gave us a roadmap of reconciliation. The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government rejected this opportunity out of hand, but we can still correct that mistake and engage in honesty and good faith with First Nations, and begin amending the systemic and structural racism and disadvantage that underpins this country.