Addressing domestic violence and child abuse within Aboriginal communities is the key to reducing incarceration rates and decreasing the chances of police custody deaths, says Alice Springs Town Councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.
The focal point of the Australian Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests has been to stop Aboriginal deaths in police custody and express solidarity with black Americans after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The rallies in multiple cities attended by tens of thousands aimed to put pressure on the federal government to reassess its efforts in reducing incarceration rates of Indigenous people and address accusations of systemic racism.
However, Price believes the problem of Indigenous incarceration rates can be solved by Indigenous communities taking responsibility for themselves and does not agree that systemic racism is the main factor.
“We need to reduce family and domestic violence as the number one cause for incarceration, and of course, if we have safe homes our children are less likely to end up on the path to incarceration,” she said.
Price is the Director of the Indigenous Program at the Centre for Independent Studies, a member of the Alice Springs town council, and a candidate for the Country Liberal Party for the next federal election.
Price believes this has the terrible consequence of ignoring the Indigenous victims of severe crimes, who are often related to their abusers.
She wrote: “Worse still, activists, politicians, and progressive commentators, who are only too quick to condemn white male perpetrators of domestic violence, too often excuse indigenous offenders on the basis of racism and colonisation.”
According to Price, suicide is the leading cause of death among young Indigenous people, which she says is often the result of neglect and abuse. Indigenous children account for a quarter of all child suicides in Australia, she said.
Price wrote: “The focus on interactions between indigenous offenders and police is obscuring the real pain of these Aboriginal children and women, who are the victims of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence and sexual assault.”
In an interview with Sky News Price said: “The very stark reality is that our children are taking their lives because they are often fallen victim to these sorts of individuals.”
“Between 2007-2011, 26 percent of all deaths among Aboriginal children aged 0-17 were a direct result of abuse injury—thats three times the rate for non-indigenous children,” Price wrote.
Price said that its not the governments responsibility to lower incarceration rates, its down to individuals.