As Australian census and prison statistics include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the counts have included both groups, as Indigenous Australians. [33], 1979–2018: The AIC's National Deaths in Custody Program report: Deaths in custody in Australia 2013–14 and 2014–15, published in April 2018, reported a total of 2,608 deaths (of all races) in custody since 1979–80, with 1,600 deaths of those in prison and 985 in police custody. [5] It reported that "Aboriginal people died in custody at the same rate as non-Aboriginal prisoners, but they were far more likely to be in prison than non-Aboriginal people", and that child removal (leading to what has since been dubbed the Stolen Generation) was a "significant precursor to these high rates of imprisonment". On 10 August 1987 Prime Minister Hawke announced the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of deaths of Aboriginal people who were held in state and territory gaols. Credit:Rhett Wyman.

The number of Indigenous adults going to prison, and young people being held in detention was still increasing, although the rate of imprisonment had slowed. [29][30], 1990–2004: A report spanning 25 years summarised the trends in deaths during this period. In the four years preceding June 2019, there were no clear trends shown in any of the statistical measures. One officer was also seen punching him several times. The nurse declared Mr Reynolds was suffering from a drug overdose, he said. Looking at police custody, those in institutional and close contact settings had been decreasing (attributed to better training of police and design improvements in holding cells), while "operational deaths" (such as pursuits) had shown an overall increase since the early 1990s, but some reduction between 2003 and 2011. “One of the huge injustices is that Aboriginal women are the fastest growing prison population in Australia and almost all of these women are survivors of family violence,” Ms Moore said. However this idea was opposed by the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) and the opposition (Labor) Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson Kyam Maher, who said that it was important to keep consistency in the statistics for comparison purposes.[21]. Since the Black Lives Matter protests, Ms Moore said there had also been two clear examples of racism and police violence. "I would say, 'Mate, take a breath for me' and he would do that.". The change was recommended by RCIADIC in 1991.

Indigenous women are at greater risk but what many people may not realise is that many of these women have a non-Aboriginal partner. Most people know that the life expectancy of an Indigenous person is lower than that of a non-Indigenous person. Subsequent deaths in custody, considered suspicious by families of the deceased, culminated in the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC). Ms Dhu had internal injuries due to family violence and the coroner said her medical care had been “deficient”. While the majority of deaths occurring in prison custody have been of natural causes (58%), hanging deaths accounted for 32%, but the latter have shown a marked decrease in recent years. In these areas Indigenous income is still on average just 44 per cent of the median non-Indigenous income. “Stolen wages” was a common practice with Indigenous people forced to work and having their pay taken off them. “There was also slavery in Australia, many, including my own great grandmother were forced to work as domestic servants after they were taken from their families.”.

Data also found the proportion of Indigenous people drinking at risky levels were similar to non-Indigenous aged over 15. 21% were attributed to natural causes, with self-inflicted deaths accounting for 19%. Of deaths in police custody, the total between mid-1991 and mid-2016 was 146, with 47% attributed to accidental death (with most of these happening under police pursuit).

Ms Moore said some Aboriginal children were imprisoned for theft and public order offences, again drawing a line between their financial circumstances and their imprisonment. Mr McGorey told the inquest Mr Reynolds had a well-documented history of severe asthma, of which Corrections NSW was aware. Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Karly Warner said Mr Reynolds was "a beloved brother, son, father, stepfather and nephew" and his family is one of hundreds that have been "left behind in grief, agony and despair" since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its findings. The Victorian and Western Australian governments indicated these laws might soon be overturned, years after two women had died in custody in each state while being held for one of these reasons (Tanya Day and Ms Dhu),[51] and WA effected the change on 17 June 2020.

In 2016, the median Indigenous income for those living in a major city was $647 per week, compared with just $389 per week in very remote areas. Nathan Reynolds died in custody in September 2018, after an asthma attack. Just a week before Anaiwan man Nathan Reynolds was due to go home from a four-month jail stint in western Sydney, the 36-year-old father, described as a "jokester" by his family, suffered an asthma attack. Under Australia's federal system, each state or territory has responsibility for criminal justice in their jurisdiction. [40][41], Since the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed in the US in the first week of June 2020, Aboriginal deaths in custody have come into focus again. “You can see how that is directly connected to experience of poverty,” she said. About three in five Indigenous women have experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a male intimate partner. The coroner also noted the same police officers treated Ms Day differently to another severely intoxicated woman they attended to later the same day who was not Indigenous. LOWER LIFE EXPECTANCY THAN PEOPLE IN COLOMBIA.

"While the number of deaths of non-Indigenous prisoners has consistently exceeded deaths of Indigenous prisoners, the rate of Indigenous prisoner deaths exceeded the rate of non-Indigenous prisoner deaths in just over half of the 15 years since RCIADIC, reflecting the general over-representation of Indigenous persons in the prison population."[34]. Mr Preo said that, when the nurse arrived, he told her Mr Reynolds was breathing and some fluid had come out of his airways.

"He was alive then and he could hear me telling him to breathe," he said. Death from natural causes was the most prevalent cause, at 58% (140), followed by hanging, at 32% (78); 5% (12) were due to drugs and/or alcohol, and 4% (9) were due to external trauma. He said a wheelchair was fetched, but Mr Reynolds' condition deteriorated when inmates tried to help him into the chair. “There are huge issues of criminalisation of women who are experiencing family violence.”. A protester attends the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne.

“Basically it works out to one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island person dying in custody every three weeks for 29 years. [38], Custody Notification Schemes (CNS) have been set up in several states and territories.

“The failure to address poverty in Indigenous communities is likely to undermine whatever gains might otherwise occur through traditional prevention activities, such as smoking cessation, and alcohol and obesity control campaigns.”, Continue the conversation @charischang2 |, To join the conversation, please Log in. As part of a 2018 pivot to a new phase, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) drafted targets to reduce Aboriginal custody rates by 2028. Nationwide News Pty Limited Copyright © 2020. ”Unpaid fines should not be a death sentence.”.

[29][30] 22% of the prison deaths and 19% of those in police custody were of Indigenous people. Most were suspected of non-indictable offences, which typically carry sentences of less than five years.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander youths made up over half (53%) of the number. [1][2], The 1988 Australian Institute of Criminology publication, Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, says "The issue of Aboriginal deaths in prisons and holding cells is particularly complex". [9][10] This means that Indigenous adults are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous adults. Aussies have gathered across the nation to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Statistics on deaths in custody are extracted from different sources; there is no single authoritative list of deaths in custody, of any race. “But we’ve yet to see any police officer, prison or corrective services officer, or medical authority convicted,” she said. 'Mate, take a breath for me': Inmate tried to save Nathan's life, inquest hears. He decided at that moment to intervene, lying him on his side and clearing his airways. [36] Further analysis of the data showed that agencies "failed to follow all of their own procedures in 41% of cases where Indigenous people died"; and in the cases of 38% of Indigenous deaths, required medical care at some point was not given. “That boy was not charged with anything but he sustained injuries,” Ms Moore said. The information in this database is from published coronial findings. Taleah Reynolds (left) and Makayla Reynolds speak to media ahead of the inquest on Monday. ", "The Report of the Inquiry into the Death of David John Gundy, Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody", "David Dungay inquest: guards who restrained Indigenous man before his death won't be disciplined", "David Dungay Inquest: Coroner finds inadequate medical attention the main factor of death", "Family of David Dungay, who died in custody, express solidarity with family of George Floyd", "The story of David Dungay and an Indigenous death in custody", "Inquest into the death of Rebecca Maher [Findings]", "Protocol breached in woman's custody death", "Rebecca Maher inquest: death in custody could have been prevented if police called ambulance", "Rebecca Maher's death in custody could have been prevented if police called ambulance", "NSW changes protocols in attempts to help further protect Indigenous people in police custody", "Three missing minutes, and more questions: Why did Wayne Fella Morrison die in custody? Behavioural factors such as smoking and obesity only accounted for 19 per cent of the gap.

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