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Justice reform is one of the big issues for Indigenous people, so what are the parties promising?

Jarred Cross -

Indigenous justice funding and reform has presented as a big ticket issue for First Nations people ahead of the weekend's Federal Election.

Aboriginal deaths in custody continues to lead conversations surrounding the failure of governments to properly address systematic issues effecting Indigenous people.

Speaking on NITV's The Point on Tuesday, Greens senator and DjabWurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe stressed the need for recommendations from the Royal Comission to be implemented, accusing the coalition of a failure to act.

"The Government say that they've done it, they haven't" she said.

Ms Thorpe pointed towards investments into communities rather than prisons for meaningful change, in addition to an effective police ombudsmen and introducing a treaty against torture in prison.

Wiradjuri woman and Labor MP Linda Burney said her party would heavily invest in the issue.

That would be headlined by a $13 million windfall for Aboriginal Legal Services to aid family participation in coronial investigations, and a requirement of adequate reporting times of all deaths in custody.

"The community is lucky if they hear about deaths in custody," Ms Burney said.

"It's not because authorities are being accountable, it's because families or the media actually exposes that there's been a death in custody."

Ms Burney said Labor would push for a unit within the Federal Attorney Generals department to oversee reporting times.

She added there needs to be "a very close look" at the model addressing family violence, including addressing the role of men.

For children's justice, Ms Thorpe said the age of criminal responsibility needed to be raised to 14.

She said her party would push to raise the age should they hold a balance of power, and recognised the need for children should be encouraged to connect with community and country rather than thrown into the legal system.

"It's criminal that our children are being locked up as babies," Ms Thorpe said.

While Ms Burney was unable to give exact details, she said 10 was too young to face the full extent of legal repercussion.

Audience member and Amnesty International Indigenous advisor Rodney Dillon was unsatisfied with Ms Burney's response, saying 'We've had 200 years' to bring the bring the minimum age of criminal responsibility up to international standard.

The Palawa elder asked why more wasn't being done for First Nations children through practical justice reinvestment measures, and if a Labor government would change this.

"There's record amounts of money being spent on prisons and police around Australia," Mr Dillon said.

"And very little money being spend on diversion programs.

"We know that Indigenous led solutions work.

"And yet there's very little (funding) being put in."

Ms Burney said her party committed to $79 million dollars for justice reinvestment.

The Point hosts John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs said the Coalition failed to produce a representative to join the discussion after repeated requests for attendance.


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