September 17, 2020

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (NATSILS) is calling for urgent national leadership and action following the latest death in custody.

Sherry Fisher Tilberoo – a 49-year-old Birri Gubba woman with family connections to the South Burnett – died in the Brisbane Watchhouse last week while on remand.

She was found unresponsive in a cell at the watchhouse on September 10.

NATSILS said there had now been five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody since June this year, and 441 since the report from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was handed down in 1991.

“Our people are dying in custody every few weeks – this is a national emergency and we demand urgent national leadership,” NATSILS co-chair Nerita Waight said.

Ms Waight said a lack of accountability meant that in practice, there was no penalty for the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

“Black Lives Matter is not a slogan – this is a movement which will not end until there is justice for every family,” she said.


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