"They took my boy’s body away," said mother, Gwen Sturt. "I wanted to go with my son. They left us behind. They didn’t care to listen."
Hundreds of Aboriginal elders and leaders will gather in Alice Springs for the Freedom Summit at the end of this month.
Hundreds of Australians endure the ordeal of jail because of unpaid fines. Their poverty is a burden. Disproportionately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated “to pay off” their fines. Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, says this “draconian practice criminalises people and destroys families and futures”. Recently, “unpaid fines” cost the life of a 22-year-old Yamatji woman, Juliecka Dhu. Dhu and her boyfriend, Dion Ruffin, were arrested on August 2 and detained by Western Australia’s South Hedland police.
One of the custodial deaths that launched the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody will be remembered this year with a national day of action, rallies and marches. Eddie Murray died while in police custody in 1981 and his family and supporters are demanding a new inquiry into his death. They claim missing clothes and a coroner's report, which proved he suffered a broken sternum while in custody, were proof that he was murdered.
It is now common knowledge that Australian adult prisons are incarcerating children as young as 13. The major obstacle for human rights advocates struggling to free these children from our adult prisons is the Australian government and the horrific prejudices and stereotypes they have shoved down Australians’ throats.
An Aboriginal youth, Rex Bellotti Jnr, aged 15 was run over by a police four-wheel-drive Holden Rodeo and more than two years have passed without any compensation, without any closure. When it comes to Aboriginal victims this is nothing new. Nyungar-Yamatji Maaman Rex Bellotti Sr and Nyungar Yorga Liz Bellotti, 42 and 40 years old, have spent their lives working very hard to ensure the likelihood of the personal advancement of their children, in the belief that Aboriginal advancement should be achieved by Aboriginal peoples.
An impoverished Indonesian mother, in front of an Australian journalist, lies on a cement floor clutching a photograph of her 16-year-old son who is now in an Australian adult prison and whom she hasn't seen since he was 14. Abject and acute poverty ravages Indonesia, a country where only 10% of the population has a refrigerator, where most people do not have electricity let alone a television, where many people live half lives working in sulphur mines and where most folk will never rise out of the shanty towns and villages they are born to die in.
I am a committee member of the Human Rights Alliance and a trustee of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA. Through my role in both during the past couple of years, I have been stunned by the fact that Australia has one of the world's worst deaths in custody records. There are more non-Aboriginal deaths in custody than Aboriginal deaths. But the rate of Aboriginal deaths in custody is higher than in South Africa during the peak of apartheid.
The new Ecological, Social Justice, Aboriginal Party is seeking federal, state and territory electoral registration, hoping to achieve it by the time the next federal election is called. If ESJAP is not registered, our candidates will contest as independents, coalesced under our banner. ESJAP will strive to ensure the undiluted Aboriginal voice in parliament — a voice sorely missing from Australian politics. There have only been 19 Aboriginal parliamentarians at the state, territory and federal levels. Ten of those 19 have been in the Northern Territory.