Statement on Aboriginal death in custody

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:

“Today is another sad and shameful day for our nation, with the death in custody of Ngemba man Frank ‘Gud’ Coleman, who was 43 years old. We at Oxfam would like to pass on our condolences to his grieving family, who reportedly had been unable to visit him in prison for an extended period.

“Frank’s death is the ninth Indigenous death in custody in Australia since March this year, and the sixth in New South Wales. It adds to the tragic toll of more than 450 Indigenous deaths in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission report was handed down.

“While the circumstances that led to Frank’s death will be the subject of an inquiry, there can be no disputing the fact that far too many First Nations women, children and men are incarcerated in Australia, many of them for minor offences.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 10 times over-represented in Australian prisons. Our rate of Indigenous incarceration is one of the highest rates of incarceration found anywhere in the world, and this rate has more than doubled over the past 30 years.

“There has been a woeful and unacceptable lack of progress on tackling Indigenous incarceration. We at Oxfam stand with all of those communities calling for urgent change, and we urge Australian governments to show leadership, and commit to meaningful action – including providing the required funding – to address this critical human rights issue.”

Oxfam Australia is a proud member of the First Peoples-led Change the Record coalition.

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