Statement on today's Black Lives Matter - Stop Black Deaths in Custody Meanjin (BNE) Protest

06 June 2020

It’s a national shame that 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.

30 years on, the Royal Commission's recommendations have not yet been fully implemented.

A related matter of great shame is the over-incarceration of indigenous people. The Australian Law Reform Commission has said:

"Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up around 2% of the national population, they constitute 27% of the national prison population. In 2016, around 20 in every 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were incarcerated. Over-representation is both a persistent and growing problem—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates increased 41% between 2006 and 2016, and the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates over that decade widened."

The Prime Minister said we should not "import" things that are happening overseas to Australia. This is an ignorant comment. Australians are able to both express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement internationally, and call for action on Black deaths in custody and over-incarceration at home. 

This movement presents an opportunity for Australians to work towards a future free from injustice, in which everyone is valued equally, and everyone can enjoy safety, security and freedom.