Canberra Indigenous leaders are refusing to back down on their proposal for a royal commission into the over-representation of First Nations people in the ACT justice system, after ministers said they have "some reservations" about it.
The convener of the meeting, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services' chief executive Julie Tongs, took the idea to ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Rachel Stephen-Smith.
Ms Tongs said in the health service's newsletter on Friday that while the ministers agreed the issues raised needed to be addressed through an inquiry, they said they had some reservations about the royal commission proposal.
The ministers indicated they needed to give it some further consideration.
"A royal commission style inquiry may take years to hand down its recommendations, which are reasonably likely to mirror those of previous inquiries and reviews," the ministers wrote in a letter to Ms Tongs.
"In addition, a royal commission style inquiry represents a significant expense for a small jurisdiction like the ACT.
"We acknowledge that enabling open inquiry into the causes and impacts of [over-representation] in the justice system and addressing these issues will inevitably demand the allocation of significant resources.
"However, directing resources to a lengthy and legalistic process may not be the most effective use of resources, especially given the number of existing recommendations before the government, many of which are yet to be implemented."
Ms Tongs said in the newsletter she remained committed to the proposal, as did the other Indigenous leaders, and she had "no intention of wavering from that position".
She said the ministers' response begged the question of why existing recommendations were yet to be implemented, and demanded an indication of what price the government "puts on black lives", or "an Aboriginal child's right to education or to live in safety ... or to not live in poverty".
The latest data released by the Productivity Commission showed the ACT has made no improvement in increasing the rate of Indigenous home ownership in the territory, in line with the national trend.
The commission's data also highlighted that the ACT did not meet a target to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the 10 years to 2018.
The territory also did not meet a target to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years by 2018, as was the case on a national scale.
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