On Saturday, amid protests for Black Lives Matter, an Indigenous man died in police custody.


WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains descriptions of people who have died.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Australians swept the streets of the nation to protest against racism and Aboriginal deaths in custody. On the same day, it was announced that a 40-year-old Indigenous man had died while in police custody at a prison in Western Australia.

The inmate died on Friday after collapsing at the Acacia Prison in Wooroloo, an hour east of Perth. Western Australia’s Department of Justice said in a statement that the man could not be revived upon being found, and was pronounced dead at hospital.

Police say there does not appear to be anything suspicious, but they will be investigating the death, and confirmed there will be an inquest.

The Department of Justice will also conduct an internal review.

Watch: Indigenous Lives Matter. Post continues below video.

Video by Mamamia

In Australia, there have been at least 434 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the royal commission into the issue ended in 1991. In that time, close to 30 years, there have been zero convictions as a result of these deaths.

An analysis by Guardian Australia of Indigenous deaths in custody in the 12 months between August 2018 and August 2019, found the proportion of deaths where “medical care was required but not given” had increased from 35.4 per cent to 38.6 per cent.


On top of this, the Aboriginal community is grossly over-represented in Australia’s criminal justice system. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up over 27 per cent of the national prison population, but only two per cent of the national population.

We explored this injustice in an episode of The Quicky, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, earlier this year. Post continues after audio.

In 2018, an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 12.5 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous people. They described the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in our prisons as a “persistent and growing problem” and a “national disgrace”.

On Saturday, national rallies saw tens of thousands of people march across cities as they waved signs in the air that highlighted these systemic injustices against the Indigenous community.

If you have the means to do so, you can actively help the Black Lives Matter cause in Australia and the United States by donating to organisations working towards racial justice, such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance and the Justice for David Dungay Fund to support the family of David Dungay Junior, an Aboriginal man who died in a Sydney jail. You can also donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network here. If you can, consider regularly donating to Indigenous-run organisations and First Nations causes.

Other active ways to help include signing petitions, attending peaceful protests, listening to BIPOC, raising their voices, educating yourself on racism and privilege and ensuring we are all taking part in the conversation to dismantle systemic racism.

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