15th April 2021

RCIADIC – Not an Anniversary to Celebrate

Anniversaries are milestones often celebrated, enjoyed and embraced. Today however on the 30th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) for First Nations Peoples and those more recent, compassionate and ethical Australians, today is a day to acknowledge the enduring shameful millstone still placed around our people’s collective necks.

Aboriginal Legal Service of WA Ltd (ALSWA) CEO Dennis Eggington is dismayed that there have been 474 deaths in custody since this date in 1991.

“The steel shackles that were placed around our ancestors’ necks still remain, the sickening incarceration rates, the over policing and the deaths in custody. How many of our people need to die in chains, behind bars, in custody; before our white brothers and sisters join with us and say enough is too much?” said Mr. Eggington.

Today, Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated people on earth.  Discrimination, systemic racism, over-policing, child removal, lack of housing and Australia’s ongoing history of colonisation are just some of the reasons why our people are more likely to get caught up in the justice system.

“We cannot stand by and let our people continue to die in police custody. It’s tearing our communities apart. We must continue to stand strong and united, and ensure that our collective voices are heard, because racism is killing our First Nations people in custody”.

ALSWA says that governments have had the solutions to end these senseless deaths for 30 years since the Royal Commission. “We need governments to implement these in partnership for the families left behind. We need culturally safe supports and Aboriginal-led solutions. While police continue to investigate police, there will be no accountability, and without accountability, there cannot be justice.

“We plead, we implore and we demand implementation of all of the enquiry’s recommendations” said the ALSWA CEO. “To do anything less is a white wash, a crime of omission, a travesty of justice and an absolute insult to all of those loving mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons that still grieve.