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Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

Racism Kills

| Posted in: Media Releases

This week the world has reacted to the story of George Floyd, an African American man whose life was tragically taken at the hands of law enforcement. Public outrage has been wide-spread and the world is rallying in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, a global organisation advocating for the elimination of government-supported violence in Black communities.i

Sadly, QAIHC and its Members experience the impact of institutional racism every day and are witness to the direct impact that systemic bias has on health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Floyd are all too familiar to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who have been speaking out against police brutality and deaths in custody since colonisation.

Behind every life taken is a broken-down family and a disrupted community clouded in anger, mistrust and confusion. The long-term health impacts after a death in custody or incident of police brutality are endless. They can include poor mental health, social and emotional distress, injury, harmful use of alcohol or other substances, self-harm, suicidality and exacerbated physical health conditions because of disengagement with the health system. The death of one can very quickly become the death of many.

In confronting the hard truths of the atrocities closer to home, we must remember the facts.

  • At least 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in police custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report in 1991.
  • 432 sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunties and uncles’ lives have been torn from the fabric of the nation that their ancestors have weaved for more than 40,000 years.
  • 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives have been tragically taken without equity, without remorse and without accountability.
  • 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities have been torn apart by trauma and despair.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland are ten times more likely to be imprisoned than other Australians.ii
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise 31 per cent of the adult prison population in Queensland.iii
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise 72 per cent of children in youth detention in Queensland.iv
  • An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male in Queensland has almost a one in three chance of being imprisoned by the age of 25.v
  • There have been zero convictions associated with any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander death in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission.

All Australians have a part to play in uncovering and eliminating the deeply entrenched racist views, perpetuating unfair stereotypes that are killing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In standing with us against racism, QAIHC urges you to:vi

  • speak out against racism
  • learn the stories of the 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose lives have been taken whilst in custody by visiting the Deaths Inside database at www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2018/aug/28/deaths-inside-indigenous-australian-deaths-in-custody
  • be open and get educated about Australia’s true history, particularly colonisation and the destruction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and its direct link to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today
  • be prepared to get uncomfortable in examining your own views about racism, privilege and oppression.
  • consider subscribing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media sources and research the true stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • donate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisaitons or causes that align with your social justice interests
  • show your support for consitutational reform to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia by writing to your local MP.

QAIHC urges all Australians to use this tragic moment in history to create real and sustainable change in our own backyard. We must stand united against racist policies and deeply entrenched opinions perpetuating oppression. We all have a responsibility to ensure that no more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives are lost at the hands of those who are entrusted to protect us.

i https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
ii https://qpc.blob.core.windows.net/wordpress/2020/01/SUMMARY-REPORT-Imprisonment-.pdf page 400
iii https://qpc.blob.core.windows.net/wordpress/2020/01/SUMMARY-REPORT-Imprisonment-.pdf page 400
iv https://qpc.blob.core.windows.net/wordpress/2020/01/SUMMARY-REPORT-Imprisonment-.pdf page 400
v https://qpc.blob.core.windows.net/wordpress/2020/01/SUMMARY-REPORT-Imprisonment-.pdf page 2
vi Many useful suggestions can be found by following this list developed by Yawuru woman Shannon Dodson https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/p rograms/hack/here-are-10-positive-ways-to-engage-with-indigenous-issues/10885222

Contact:
Emma Clarke Manager, Communication and Marketing

Emma.clarke@qaihc.com.au

0418 982 095