The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) has launched a crowdfunding
campaign on GoFundMe to end Black deaths in custody. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal
Deaths in Custody in 1991, there have been 437 Aboriginal deaths in custody – that’s about one every
three weeks for 29 years. No one has ever been held criminally liable for these deaths.
The crowdfunding campaign has so far received contributions from over 700 donors within the first
week of its launch. Donations will fund a dedicated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander campaigner
to work closely with the families whose loved ones have died in custody. Together they will create a
campaign to end Black deaths in custody. Money raised will also support the families to be involved.
In the last three weeks alone we have seen continued black deaths in custody and violence at the hands
of police and correctional officers towards Aboriginal people. An Aboriginal man died in custody at
Acacia Prison in Western Australia on the same day that thousands of people were out on the streets
protesting to stop Black deaths in custody. An Aboriginal woman is in a critical condition after being
allegedly ‘body-slammed’ by a prison guard at Bandyup Women’s Prison, and a 16 year old boy had his
knees kicked out from under him and was pinned to the ground by a police officer in NSW. Recent
footage has also emerged of police holding down and striking an Aboriginal man in South Australia
during an arrest with questions of racial profiling and unnecessary use of force – and these are just the
incidents that made it into the media.
“We have been repeatedly told by politicians to wait, and that justice and progress takes time, but we
can’t wait anymore. Our people are being locked up at the highest rates in the world and police violence
continues to harm and kill our people. That’s why NATSILS is calling on the public to show their support
for an end to Black deaths in custody and the over incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people by donating to our crowd funder,” said Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
“The 437 deaths in custody and incidents of the last few weeks show that nearly 30 years on from the
Royal Commission, excessive use of force, over-policing and racism in the justice system are significant
issues that need to be addressed by governments. We have simple solutions like the Custody
Notification Service that saves lives, yet the political handballing of properly funding these programs
across the country continues to cost Aboriginal people’s lives,” said Nerita Waight, Co-Chair of NATSILS.
“We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people in Australia take to the streets to stand in solidarity with
the Black Lives Matter movement and to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody. Despite the mass outpour of
support and solutions available the Federal Government has failed to announce any further measures to
stop deaths in custody or further implement any of the 339 recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Australians are recognising the injustices that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face, and want
to see national leadership to prevent any more Black deaths in custody. Now is the time for leadership
Link to GoFundMe – https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-deaths-in-custody