Thirty years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report.
Now is the time both to reflect on the lives needlessly lost in custody over the past three decades, and most importantly to take action to address the disproportionate number of First Nations people who are incarcerated, and the mistreatment of the many who are.
An investigation conducted over the past 3 years by Guardian Australia has revealed that "at least 474 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have died since the royal commission handed down its final report on 15 April, 1991.”
The Guardian also states that at least five of those deaths have happened since the beginning of March this year.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain says “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right.
Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.”
Now is the time for the Australian public to act and to speak out against these injustices. The post above by Reconciliation Australia includes some helpful ways to make your voice heard. You can also add your name an over 45 thousand-strong petition by GetUp! here.
(Image source: womensagenda.com.au)