June Riemer said incarceration rates are particularly high because many Indigenous people in prison across the state live with a disability, mostly undiagnosed.
The Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti woman is the deputy chief executive of the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) created in 2010 to advocate on behalf of Indigenous people living with disability.
“It’s not just a wheelchair, we’re talking psychosocial disability, autism, the whole range,” Ms Riemer said.
“But in regard to our mob, the intergenerational trauma that our mob have suffered for many years and many generations now impacts on all our families and impacts on their health.”
Nationally, FPDN says about 45 per cent of Indigenous people live with disability.
There is no specific data on the number of Indigenous people living with disability in Australian prisons, but UNSW criminologist Eileen Baldry suggests it could be as high as 60 per cent.
Ms Riemer said the network’s first 10 years went without government support and most of its programs are unfunded. She said projects need long-term funding.
“A lot of our community, they do live in poverty because they’re all supporting each other,” she said.
“So what happens with a person with disability, they never really get the educational outcomes to allow them to have a better life.”
She said if the Premier is true to his words he needs to “get out and live on country and listen, and really hear”.
“People know what needs to be done in community, they’ve been doing this work a long time – generally free,” she said.
“Unless you do that whole of person, whole of community support and understanding what the needs are of the community you won’t change the system.”