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Two Indigenous deaths in custody this week, our institutions are failing

In the past week, two indigenous people have died in custody.

A man in his mid-30s died last Tuesday at Long Bay Hospital, a treatment location for NSW prisoners.

An Indigenous woman in her mid-50s died in her cell at Silverwater Women’s Prison three days later.

The NSW government did not inform the public or the media of the deaths in custody. The tragedies were raised by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

Both deaths will be referred to the coroner.

The Chief Executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service, stated that government has an obligation to inform the public of any death in custody.

Karly Warner also stated that the government has failed to act on results of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, which strongly recommended the removal of hanging points from all cells.

Mainstream media has not provided adequate coverage of these deaths.

When we consider the current statistics of incarceration in this country, questions must be raised as to why issues of systemic racism in our institutions goes so unnoticed, unreported and unanswered for.

2.8% of the Australian population identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, but Indigenous adults are 15 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians, while juveniles are 26 times more likely.

More than 400 Indigenous Australians have died in police custody since the royal commission in 1991.

What we are witnessing is a justice system in desperate need of reform, one which currently targets First Nations people at a disproportionate rate.

Rates of incarceration have increased by 45% since 2008. Highlighting the presence of systemic racism in our criminal justice system.

Australia, at present, is a crime scene. Failing minorities, victims and our most vulnerable. Shielding institutions and those in power from accountability with so much as a 'rule of law' reference, a sweep under the rug.