• The death of a 22 year old Indigenous man in a Perth prison will be investigated by the WA coroner. (AAP)Source: AAP
The peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal body is calling for urgent action following a fifth death in custody in just over a month.
Keira Jenkins

5 Apr 2021 - 2:50 PM  UPDATED 5 Apr 2021 - 2:50 PM

Another First Nations person has died in police custody over the weekend.

It's the fifth death in custody since the beginning of March. Hannah McGlade, executive officer of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (NATSILS) says action is urgent.

"I think, all Aboriginal people, we're shocked, we're worried, we're upset, we're angry," she told NITV News.

Dr McGlade said the latest spate of deaths proves that First Nations people are still not being listened to, despite national outcry during protests last year.

"This is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important in Australia as it is internationally."

'The system doesn't care'

The deaths are a grim marker: this month is the 30th anniversary of the final report from the royal commission into Indigenous deaths in custody. 

"We had a royal commission... to stop Aboriginal people from dying in prisons, and yet we know nothing has changed.

"The rate of people dying seems to be just like it was back then.

"The system doesn't care about Aboriginal people."

Dr McGlade said she wants to see urgent systemic reform, including justice reinvestment and a raise in the age of criminal responsibility.

"A lot of times the experiences of prisoners are not in the public view," she said.

"We have this prison industrial complex that is just so cruel to our people. We have mass incarceration. We have violence to Aboriginal people that's from the state.

"We have to turn this around, we can turn this around...We have to stop building prisons that are treating Aboriginal people in this inhumane way."

Latest death fifth in one month

The 45-year-old man was an inmate at Perth's Casuarina Prison. He was taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital on Friday and died on Saturday after undergoing a medical procedure and being placed in intensive care.

His death is the fifth in just over a month.

A man in his 30's died in NSW on March 2, a fact only revealed after questioning in the NSW parliament by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

A woman in her 50s died in custody at Silverwater Women's Prison on March 7, and in Victoria a man died in Ravenhall Correctional Centre on the same day.

Barkindji man Anzac Sullivan died during a police pursuit in Broken Hill, NSW on March 18, .

Another Indigenous person has died in custody - the fifth in Australia since the start of March
An Indigenous inmate at Perth's maximum security Casuarina Prison has died in hospital, adding to a recent spate of Aboriginal deaths in police custody.