The families of fifteen First Nations people who have died in custody are demanding prime minister Scott Morrison meet with them face to face on the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
According to 2021 analysis by Guardian Australia at least 474 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in police or prison custody since the commission handed down its final report on April 15, 1991, including five deaths in the month of March.
The landmark report made 339 recommendations addressing the disproportionate number of First Nations people dying in custody, including: better collaboration with Aboriginal communities and imprisonment only as a last resort.
A 2018 Deloitte report found, of the 339 recommendations, 64 per cent have been fully implemented, 30 per cent were partially implemented and 6 per cent had not been implemented. However, several high-profile Indigenous advocates dispute these claims and say very few, if any have been effectively implemented.
In a statement released by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS), the families say: “Our communities have had the solutions to end this injustice for 30-years, but Governments have chosen not to prioritise saving Black lives. Enough is enough.”
The statement called for governments to act urgently on a list of demands to eradicate Black deaths in custody. The demands include:
- Full implementation of the 339 recommendations, with involvement from the families who have lost loved ones.
- An independent body separate from the police or corrective services to investigate all deaths in custody.
- Police to immediately notify ATSILS when an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person is in custody for any reason.
- Reduce imprisonment of First Nations peoples by repealing punitive bail laws, mandatory sentencing laws, and decriminalising public drunkenness.
To read the fifteen families’ statement and the full list of demands, visit here
Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, supports the families calls for full implementation of the commissions 339 recommendations and said the prime minister needs to step-up and meet with the families urgently.
“We need signatures on that, and we need pressure applied so the Prime Minister meets with the families. Not Ken Wyatt, the prime minister. They can’t pass the buck to the ‘token black’ in their party, the so-called prime minister of this country has to deal with it and meet with these families urgently.”
Senator Thorpe urged people to go to the NATSILS website and sign the petition and support the families demands.
“It’s about going to your local member of parliament, doesn’t matter who it is, and getting them to sign-up to the ten demands, getting your workplaces, your organisations, to all sign-up and support these families’ voices in this space.”
The families involved in the petition and demands include:
Family of Cherdeena Wynne and Warren John Cooper
Family of Christopher Drage and family of Trisjack Simpson
Family of David Dungay Jnr
Family of Gareth Jackson Roe
Family of Joyce Gladis Clarke
Family of Ms Dhu
Family of Nathan Reynolds
Family of Raymond Noel Thomas
Family of Stanley Inman
Family of Tane Chatfield
Family of Aunty Tanya Day
Family of Aunty Sherry Fisher-Tilberoo
Family of Wayne Fella Morrison.
To support the families and sign the petition visit here