April 15, 2021, was the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which contained numerous recommendations for reform. In the three decades since the commission published its findings, First Nations people in Australia are still unacceptably being incarcerated and dying in prison. At the time of the royal commission, Aboriginal people made up about 14 percent of Australia’s prison population. Thirty years on, the rate of Indigenous incarceration has doubled, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprising 29 percent of the adult prison population but just 3 percent of the national population.
Our First Nations people face crippling injustice in Australia including over-policing and over-incarceration at an unacceptable rate. Most Aboriginal deaths in custody are due to inadequate medical care, neglect and inaction. While Indigenous Australians continue to die at the hands of our justice system, many of the recommendations of the original Royal Commission remain unimplemented. No police officer or authority has ever been held criminally responsible for this devastating loss of life.
RUSU would like to show its solidarity to the Indigenous people of Australia. We pay our respects to those who have died in custody, their families and communities. We ask students who would like to show support for these Indigenous families to sign the petition calling on the Prime Minister to meet with First Nations people who have lost loved ones in police custody.