432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991. First Nations peoples are the most incarcerated in the world. This is the reality behind the Aboriginal Lives Matter movement but it should not be a new point of focus. And for the below organisations and services, it isn't.
We can help.
We can use the momentum of this time to spread vital information. We can use our resources to support services fighting to make a difference; the families of those affected. And we can do the work to ensure this isn't only a moment of clarity, but a vital surge of motion in the trajectory to ongoing and meaningful change.
Below are organisations and crowdfunding platforms to which you can direct resources. And the places you can donate your time.
Ways to donate to legal services in support of Indigenous Australians
"Sisters Inside responds to criminalised women and girls' needs holistically and justly. We work alongside women and girls to build them up and to give them power over their own lives."
The organisation calls this 'walking the journey together'. Your donation (top right of website) will go towards a brighter future for Queensland's most disadvantaged and marginalised women and children.
The Northern Territory focused NAAJA works to ensure Aboriginal people in the region have real access to Criminal, Civil and Family Law services. It works with Aboriginal communities, government and non-government stakeholders to deliver services in a professional, culturally proficient and community sensitive manner. According to NAAJA, the needs of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory justice system have never been higher.
"After dispossession, new laws were imposed, and used to rule over our communities. We had no say in the laws that were created and the police and the courts have historically played a fundamental role in the oppression of Aboriginal peoples. The ALS was founded as a response to this injustice, and in acknowledgement of the importance of Aboriginal people designing and delivering services to our own communities."
The ALS was founded 50 years ago in Redfern, Sydney. Today it fights for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Peoples in the areas of criminal law, children’s care and protection law and family law. Plus the development of wraparound programs (individual plans of care) and broader policy and law reform.
The National Justice Project advocates for the development of a law and a justice system which is fair, just and equitable. They provide legal support to people who struggle to access justice, with a focus on First Nations communities and asylum seekers. They receive no government funding, so donations are essential to the Project's efforts to advance human rights.
In Western Australia, people who have no criminal convictions can face prison if they are too poor to pay fines. And single Aboriginal mothers make up the majority of those affected. The Gofundme FreeHer - organised on behalf of Sisters Inside - is raising funds to release people from prison and help pay outstanding warrants.
David Dungay died tragically in December 2015 in similar circumstances to George Floyd, while being detained by six corrective services officers at the Long Bay Gaol in Sydney. In September 2019, despite video footage, the NSW Coroner determined that the Corrective Services officers involved were not responsible for Dungay's death. This Gofundme contributes to the legal and travel costs of Dungay's family, fighting in his memory.
Kumanjayi Walker was shot by police three times in his home at Yuendumu on Saturday night 9 November 2019. Donations will be used to pay for lawyers to travel to Yuendumu to facilitate an independent inquiry into the shooting.
In September 2019, 29-year-old Yamatji woman and mother Joyce Clarke was shot and killed by police on a suburban street in Geraldton, WA. Donations from this Gofundme will help fund travel and accommodation so Clarke's family be present for the trial of the police officer charged with her murder.
In December 2017, Yorta Yorta woman, mother, grandmother and activist Tanya Day died in the custody of Victorian Police after a series of ultimately fatal falls. This fund helps fund the campaign by Day's family to achieve justice.
Ways to donate your time
And your skills: services like ALS have volunteer placements, or you can contact the relevant organisation in your area.
Now is the time to utilise your democratic rights. You can sign this petition Prevent Deaths in Custody Caused by Improper Restraint. And you can write to your representatives, including the Minister of Police. This document provides one template for writing to address the incident of an officer using aggressive force with a young aboriginal boy in Surry Hills, Sydney, this week.
Finally, you can use your time to educate yourself. Our essential reading list includes The Uluru Statement from the Heart, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, Talking to My Country, by Stan Grant, Decolonizing Solidarity, by Clare Land, Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe and Iridescence by Paul Callaghan. Contact us at @russhmagazine; we'd love to know yours.