We are all responsible for shaping the world. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the injustices and prejudice that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face within our own country.
There are similarities between how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, and African American, Black American and Native American peoples in America, are treated by the justice system and law enforcement. However, in Australia, incidents of the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody do not gain the attention they deserve. The following statement from the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention outlines the most recent statistics regarding this issue:
“The impacts of colonisation, oppression, contemporary systemic racism, and police brutality are global issues as relevant in Australia as in the USA. In the USA, African-Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. In Australia, Aboriginal peoples are 16.5 times more likely to die in custody than white Australians. While the rate of imprisonment in Australia has remained relatively unchanged for non-Indigenous peoples over the last ten years, for Indigenous peoples the imprisonment rate has almost doubled, and continues to rise. The major causes of the rising rates of Indigenous peoples deaths in prison are government failures to follow their own procedures and provide appropriate medical care to Indigenous people in custody.”
All Australians have a role to play in fighting injustice. The recent images and video’s that we have seen regarding police brutality and the recent protests in America can be confronting and uncomfortable to watch. You may be feeling overwhelmed and hopeless regarding what you can do. Below are some simple actions that you can take:
1) Educate yourself about systemic racism and Aboriginal disadvantage. Increasing your awareness and teaching others means you are demonstrating solidarity.
2) Learn about the First peoples of your local area. Head to https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia for more information.
3) Attend or participate in community Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events (e.g. National Close the Gap, NAIDOC Week).
4) Buy from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Head to https://supplynation.org.au/ for more information.
If you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who is struggling with mental health concerns, you may be able to access no gap sessions with a psychologist under the Psychological Serivces Program Referral through GCPHN. Contact your GP, or our receptionists, for more information. Alternatively, below are some resources for Mental Health.