The boss of Canberra's Aboriginal health service says she lives in fear that another Aboriginal person will die in custody in the ACT as the country prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of the royal commission that was meant to ensure the end of deaths in the justice system.
A new royal commission is needed into Canberra's jail, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to reset the entire system, says Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs.
"The whole system needs an overhaul. By focusing on the AMC, that then brings in the whole of the justice system," she said.
"I'm always concerned there's going to be another death in custody."
April 15 marks 30 years since the final report from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was handed down, and Ms Tongs said it was a "national disgrace" all of the 339 recommendations had not been implemented across the country.
"If we had implemented the recommendations from the royal commission ... we wouldn't be talking about these things now," Ms Tongs said.
"We should have well and truly moved on from this, but it's getting worse."
Since the landmark 1991 report, more than 450 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody across the country, including five in the past month alone.
In the ACT, Steven Freeman's family will mark the fifth anniversary of their son's death next month.
Mr Freeman was 25 when he overdosed in Canberra's prison in 2016 after being prescribed methadone, sparking a coronial inquest which found changes needed to be made to the prison's methadone program.
"There's plenty of discussion, but there's very little action," Ms Tongs said.
Canberra's prison and actions by police towards Aboriginal detainees have been in the spotlight after a string of incidents came to light in the past year.
A racist attack by prison staff on an Indigenous prisoner in the form of racist drawings was the subject of an ACT Administrative and Civil Tribunal hearing and outcome last year.
In January, an Aboriginal woman who was on remand in the jail alleged she was strip-searched in full view of male detainees.
And last month a magistrate found that an Aboriginal man was baselessly and unlawfully arrested last year for being "drunk and disorderly".
The ACT government has begun a review into the justice system, to tackle the disproportionate difference in incarceration rate between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in custody.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 1.9 per cent of Canberra's population, but about 23 per cent of the detainee population at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
That rate would need to be cut by almost a quarter in the next decade to bring it in line with non-Indigenous incarceration.
ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury has set a target for the incarceration rates of First Nations people and non-Indigenous people to be the same by 2030.
"This is a long, slow, difficult journey that really requires all of society to front up to enduring racism," Mr Rattenbury said.
He said the government's commitment to raise the criminal age of responsibility from 10 to 14, making the ACT the first jurisdiction in the country to do so, was a "high priority".
"Because we know putting young children in jail only serves to entrench disadvantage," he said.
Protesters will line streets across the country on Saturday, while the Canberra community can gather at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for a peaceful event to mark the day.
Tent Embassy caretaker Diyan Coe said the barbecue aimed to "bring peace and harmony" and bring communities together.
"What the Aboriginal Embassy is trying do at the moment is ameliorate, to make things better," she said.
Ms Coe said education is the first step, and she is working with ACT Policing to implement new cultural training.
ACT Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said a new cultural training program for officers would be implemented later this year.
"Originally when the program was put together, there wasn't consultation with local elders," he said. "It was basically generic information."
"We need to focus training for what's required for police officers in the territory to address the issues facing the community."
Deputy commissioner Gaughan has spent his first year in the role talking to the Indigenous community, as part of an "examination and review" of the issues.
"12 months of me talking to elders is really going to change things," he said.
Now the focus will shift to addressing and implementing the changes recommended by an ombudsman report into policing, and those raised by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory board.
Deputy commissioner Gaughan wants to reduce barriers for Aboriginal Australians to joining the force, and to increase their representation, particularly within sworn officers. However, there is no target set.
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