First Nations-led national justice coalition Change the Record is urging Federal election hopefuls to give power to Indigenous people as it launches its key election demands in the wake of the not guilty verdict handed down in the Yuendumu trial.

Change the Record called on governments across the country to abandon “punitive” law and order measures which they claim do not keep communities safe and drive Indigenous incarceration.

The group wants all parties and candidates to tackle poverty, the housing crisis, family violence, and policies which fuel inequality.

Change the Record co-chair and Narungga woman Cheryl Axleby said governments should start listening to the First Nations experts advocating for change.

“Our people are once again in mourning after another young fella was killed in police custody with no consequences, and no justice,” she said.

“We are tired of governments saying they want to close the gap but then doing nothing to support our young people in community instead of prison.

“Governments say they want to work with us but instead of… putting our people in the driver’s seat, they continue to lock away our children and criminalise our people.”

Ms Axleby said the Coalition of Peaks had brought together national Aboriginal coalitions to develop an agreement for the first time in history.

“What we need besides targets is structural reforms within government… looking at how they engaged with Indigenous people, how they are investing in building the capacity of Aboriginal organisations,” she said.

Change the Record co-chair Antoinette Braybrook said governments needed to hand the reigns over to Indigenous people to close the gap.

“In the lead up to the Federal Election our demands are simple: recognise the expertise and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and give us back the power to make decisions for our safety and the safety of our communities,” she said.

“Fund our community-controlled services so that we are not forced to turn women away, and fund our national peak – the Forum – so we can ensure that the voices of First Nations women and victim-survivors are heard.”


KEY RECOMMENDATIONS: 

Housing 

  • Invest in Aboriginal and community-controlled housing – including an emergency commitment to build new remote housing in response to the crisis of overcrowding and Covid
  • End homelessness once and for all.
  • Commit to systemic reform to realise everyone’s right to a home

Family violence 

  • Adequately fund family violence prevention and legal services to meet community need (+ $32 million p/a)
  • Restore funding to the national peak the Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum ($1 million p/a)
  • Establish a self-determined, dedicated National Safety Plan for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Social security 

  • Raise the rate of Centrelink so no one is forced to live in poverty
  • Abolish discriminatory compulsory income management
  • Abolish punitive mutual obligations

Justice 

  • Establish a National Justice Reinvestment Body (Labor & Greens have already committed)
  • End Blak deaths in custody and fully implement police and prison oversight (including intergovernmental agreements to implement OPCAT)
  • Raise the Age to at least 14 years old