Murder rates for Indigenous women are eight times higher than for their non-Indigenous counterparts, a Senate committee has been told.
But death rates among the cohort could be even higher as the Australian Crime Institute only factors in cases of murder and not manslaughter.
The data was shared during hearings of a parliamentary inquiry into missing and murdered First Nations women and children.
A Senate committee is looking at the systems and circumstances that led to those deaths and disappearances, as well as reviewing current and historical practices used to investigate the murders.
Homicide rates were declining in Australia, but murder rates for Indigenous women weren’t following the same trajectory, Australian Crime Institute deputy director Rick Brown said.
“It shows a very clear picture of systemic disadvantage no matter what indicator you take … Indigenous people have poorer outcomes,” Dr Brown told the committee.
Senior members of the Australian Federal Police told the inquiry police should be treating all members of the community the same regardless of whether or not they are Indigenous.
There were cultural literacy training courses in place to ensure officers knew why Indigenous people may feel uncomfortable or unsafe around police, Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier said.
Senator Lidia Thorpe, who is on the committee, told the assistant commissioner he was using too many “buzzwords” in his answers.
“It’s 2022 and things (are not) getting better,” she said. “This is not an Aboriginal issue. The system is against Aboriginal people.”
Mr Crozier accepted police should improve, noting a one-size-fits-all approach would not necessarily work in all communities.
“We need to build that trust,” he told the inquiry. “If there are opportunities for different approaches … all things are on the table.”
The assistant commissioner will be providing further written information to the committee on the training in place to address racism within the police force.
The inquiry was also told it was unlikely Indigenous legal services would ever receive enough funding to meet the needs of the communities they supported.
The Commonwealth provided $440 million over five years to Indigenous legal services, Esther Bogaart from the attorney-general’s department told the hearing.
An additional $9.3 million was given to services in August last year to better support families of dead Indigenous people and those with complex legal cases, she said.
But Ms Bogaart acknowledged it was unlikely there would ever be enough money to match community needs.
The department was working closely with services so they could prioritise cases and ensure those most in need were supported, she said.
Ms Bogaart conceded it meant some people would not receive the legal advice or representation they should have access to.
Submissions for the Senate inquiry close on November 11. The committee is expected to hand down its report by July 31 next year.