Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the following article contains names of people who have died.
Today marks the 12 month anniversary of Wayne Fella Morrission, a 29 year old Aboriginal man (in prison for the first time) who died in custody in South Australia. #JusticeforFella
Today also marks just five days since the most recent Aboriginal Death in Custody, Tane Chatfield, a 22-year-old man in Tamworth of which there has been little to no national media coverage.
The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody began looking at Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1980, the year I was born, and nearly 40 years later, our people are still dying in prison, being denied medical attention, being denied protection.
In the last 12 months the following Aboriginal Deaths in Custody have been reported:
- 25 August 2016, Man, 31 years old, NT
- 3 September 2016, Man, 41 years old, VIC
- 26 September 2016, Man, 27 years old, SA
- 13 December 2016, Woman, 44 years old, WA
- 4 July 2017, Man, 35 years old, NSW
- 26 May 2017, Man, 50 years old, SA
There were – and are – many many more unreported.
Today Wayne’s family still don’t know what happened, the Coroner’s Report is still being finalised, and the Correctional Officers are still working at Yatala prison.
The 339 recommendations from the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody have still not all been implemented.
They need to be.
We grieve with the families, the Aboriginal community, and our nation.
Grieve with us.
And stand with us, this Friday, 29 September, for a National call to action:
In South Australia at a Candlelight Vigil outside Yatala Prison from 6pm.
In Sydney at Corrective Services 20 Lee St, Sydney (near Central Station) from 5:30pm.
Brooke Prentis is the Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace. She is a descendant of the Waka Waka people, an activist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, a Christian pastor, and an accountant.