Governments must act now to stop Black deaths in custody  

[supplied by NATSILS]

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Image: ABC

We are deeply upset and angered to learn of another Black death in custody, reported at Cessnock Correctional Centre and confirmed by Corrective Services NSW on Tuesday 27 April. Our thoughts are with the man’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

April 15 marked 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and over 475 of our people have lost their lives in custody. Meanwhile, federal, state and territory governments continue to stall on urgent action to end these injustices, despite having the answers for over 30 years. 

“We are beyond devastated to learn of yet another death in custody, our thoughts and condolences are with his family and loved ones.We urgently need to see culturally safe supports and Aboriginal-led solutions to  stop our people dying. Governments must stop avoiding responsibility and act now to ensure these injustices for our people end and there is accountability for those responsible. We are also concerned at the lack of information about all deaths in custody. It is important that families have time to be notified and have a chance to grieve privately - but also important for governments to ensure as much transparency as possible.” says NATSILS Chair, Priscilla Atkins.

Our organisations have called for practical and necessary policy and law reform solutions for 50 years. We need to see every recommendation of the Royal Commission implemented.

The latest death in custody follows the deaths of a 45-year-old Aboriginal man in Perth on 3 April; 37-year-old Barkindji man Anzac Sullivan in a police pursuit in Broken Hill on 18 March; an Aboriginal man in Melbourne’s Ravenhall Prison on 7 March; an Aboriginal woman in Silverwater women’s prison on 5 March; and a 35-year-old Aboriginal man at Long Bay hospital on 2 March.

NATSILS supports the calls from fifteen families whose loved ones have died in custody, who have created a petition calling for a meeting with the PM, which has so far gone unanswered. They wish to present him with a list of demands to put an end to Black deaths in custody, demands that can benefit the seriousness of this national emergency. Their petition has received over 33,000 signatures. 

Our thoughts are with the family of Wayne Fella Morrison whose coronial inquest continues this week in S.A. He should still be with his family today. We also extend our deepest condolences to the family of  Bailey Mackander, whose coronial inquest commences today in NSW. 

NATSILS stand in solidarity and deep respect with all families whose loved ones have died in custody in their calls for change, justice and accountability.

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