April marked 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Horrifyingly, since then incarceration rates of Aboriginal women, men and children have only increased and almost 450 more Aboriginal people have died in custody. There were five deaths in custody of Aboriginal people in March and April alone. Aboriginal people have once again called for recognition of and resources for community-led solutions.
Being community-led is one of the core principles of the Yuwaya Ngarra-li partnership, which grew from collaboration between UNSW researchers and community-controlled organisations on a research study on the criminalisation and incarceration of Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability. The Dharriwaa Elders Group invited UNSW to work in partnership on the solutions to the systemic drivers of disadvantage and incarceration for Aboriginal people in Walgett. This has involved improving the accountability of police and diversion pathways, but also focusing on issues like energy poverty, food and water security, and enabling greater Aboriginal community control in Walgett.
Yuwaya Ngarra-li’s core principles have been elaborated and grounded culturally and conceptually by Virginia Robinson, Walgett Aboriginal Elder and Secretary of the DEG in this Yuwaya Ngarra-li Research Brief.