• The Greens are urging a full audit of the recommendations made in the 1991 Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Greens have reinforced calls for the government to urgently act on the high rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody after two young boys died in police presence in Perth.
12 Sep 2018 - 3:49 PM  UPDATED 21 Sep 2018 - 2:53 PM

WA Greens senator Rachel Siewert has moved a motion in the senate, calling on the prime minister to show leadership and call 'an urgent meeting' to address the high rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody. 

“I planned to make this statement before the horrible, tragic deaths of two Aboriginal boys, in Perth on Monday afternoon," Ms Siewert, the party’s Aboriginal affairs spokeswoman, said.

In a letter to the prime minister, both Senator Siewert and Greens leader Richard Di Natale demanded an 'urgent meeting with states and territories to develop and commit to an action plan on how both the States and Commonwealth will address this issue'. 

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They're calling on the government to carry out an urgent and public audit of the 339 recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody almost 30 years ago. 

"This government needs to be showing leadership on this and dragging by hook or by crook the states and territories to the table and requiring them to make change," Ms Siewert said. 

"Why is it that in 2018 we still have a disproportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our justice system, she told the chamber. "This is our national shame.

"There have been four deaths in custody this year alone." 

According to the Guardian's Deaths Inside investigation, there have been 407 deaths of First Nations people since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths of Custody in 1991, and 147 deaths since 2008. 

"Of these 147 cases, more than half had not yet been convicted of their alleged crime, were being held in protective custody or were being pursued by police typically for minor crimes such as pubic intoxication." 

"These people subsequently paid with their life." 

Senator Siewert said her party was appalled that people in prison do not receive medical attention. 

"[This] is a basic human right. All Australians have the right to medical attention even if they are in prison or custody. It is unacceptable that a person has died from a tooth abscess in prison in 2018," she said. 

"This must be a wake-up call to all members of parliament."

Ms Siewert also paid tribute to the young Perth boys' families. 

"My heart goes out to their families and their community. The community is in deep mourning and in grief," she said. 

"This tragedy should never have happened." 

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