Statement on the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Campaigns and Advocacy, Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases article written on the 15 Apr 2021

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:

“Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right.

“Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.

“We feel deeply the heartbreak of more than 450 grieving families who have lost loved ones and been let down by successive governments since 1991, and we stand with those calling for accountability and change.

“We at Oxfam aim to uphold the right to self-determination and other rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country and everywhere. We acknowledge the political, social and cultural leadership of First Peoples and their efforts to draw attention to this anniversary, and the woeful and unacceptable lack of progress.

“We stand with all of those communities calling for urgent change, and we urge Australian governments to show leadership, and commit to authentic and meaningful action – including providing the required funding – to address this critical human rights issue.” 

Oxfam Australia is a proud member of Change the Record, an Aboriginal-led justice coalition with a mission to end the incarceration of, and family violence against, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

For further information, please contact Lily Partland on 0418 118 687 or