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Activists Horrified After Three Indigenous People Die In Custody In Just One Week

Activists Horrified After Three Indigenous People Die In Custody In Just One Week

On Friday, Corrections Victoria confirmed the death of an Indigenous inmate that occurred on March 7.

Jessica Lynch

Jessica Lynch

Major outrage has been sparked after three Indigenous people died in custody across Australia in just one week.

According to Corrections Victoria, a man was found dead at Ravenhall Correctional Centre on March 7.

A statement from the body said: "All deaths in custody are reported to the Coroner, who formally determines the cause of death.

"As the prisoner was an Aboriginal man, the Aboriginal Justice Caucus was advised on the day and we continue to work closely with them and the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria.

"The family of the man were notified with our condolences, and a Smoking Ceremony is being arranged.

"We recognise that all deaths in custody have impacts on family members, friends, corrections staff and the Aboriginal community, and we're working to ensure they are provided with the support they need."

Several days earlier, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was found unresponsive in a jail cell at Long Bay Hospital.

The cause of death is currently unknown, but it is believed the man had pre-existing health conditions. His final moments will be subject to a coronial inquiry.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokeswoman for Corrective Services NSW confirmed the Long Bay prisoner had died last week, saying: "He was found unresponsive in his cell at about 12.55 pm before he was pronounced dead at 1.32 pm.

"Corrective Services NSW and NSW Police are investigating the incident. All deaths in custody are subject to a coronial inquest.


Three days after the incident at Long Bay Jail, a woman in her 50s took her own life in Silverwater Women's Prison.

NSW authorities have since come under fire following the deaths, with Greens MP David Shoebridge saying the public should have been notified of the incidents.

Mr Shoebridge criticised the government's non-disclosure of the two deaths, saying: "Two First Nations deaths in a single week is devastating and the government's new policy of secrecy only adds to the growing concern about First Nations deaths in custody.

"The government's response to the Black Lives Matter movement has not been to address deaths in custody but to hide them from public scrutiny."

Meanwhile, Upper house Labor MP and chair of the committee Adam Searle said the death of the 35-year-old man last week was worrying.

"Obviously we would like the authorities to make clear what happened as soon as possible so that the community can have confidence in the processes and institutions that deal with all deaths in custody, including those of First Nations people, " he said.

More than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody since 1991, when the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was unveiled.

It also found that Indigenous people were far more likely than non-Indigenous people to be arrested and imprisoned.

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Topics: Australia