On the seventh anniversary of his apology to the Stolen Generations, Kevin Rudd says Australia is facing an indigenous incarceration epidemic.
Kevin Rudd says Australia is experiencing an indigenous incarceration epidemic and is urging politicians to do more to revive the spirit of reconciliation.
He made the comments at an event marking the seventh anniversary of his apology to the Stolen Generations.
Mr Rudd said there had been an "explosion" in the number of indigenous Australians in jail.
"Australia is now facing an indigenous incarceration epidemic," he said in Sydney.
"This in turn is negatively impacting on various other closing the gap targets," he added, pointing out that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 27.4 per cent of the adult prison population despite only accounting for 2.3 per cent of the adult population.
Mr Rudd said it was concerning that young indigenous people were much more likely to remain behind bars before being sentenced, often because they weren't able to meet bail conditions.
"We are seeing the emergence of this crisis in indigenous Australia beyond anything we have seen before," he said.
"It's a subject of an escalating anxiety in indigenous communities across Australia."
He also questioned whether governments had done enough to work toward reconciliation in recent years.
"As the prime minister who delivered that apology, what worries me seven years on is whether the spirit of reconciliation remains as fresh today as it was then," Mr Rudd said.
"The message to all of us white fellas in the room is very simple.
"Our Aboriginal and indigenous brothers and sisters would simply be saying to us: `get back to and get on with it'."