In Australia, Black Lives Matter is a powerful global movement that celebrates Black people’s bravery, energy, and desire for freedom and social justice.
Its message has caused awareness among people all over the world. The people of Canada, France, the U.K., and Australia are standing together for the cause, started by Black Lives Matter supporters in the United States.
The movement Black Lives Matter in Australia has also raised essential matters such as the regular biases met by black people in the justice and health care system.
1. Black Lives Matter in Australia
Australian history often highlights the lousy state of black people in Australia. To begin with, we need to bring out the events when members of the ‘First Fleet‘ claimed Australia under the legal principle of “terra nullius.” This was followed by a long period of mass murders and bloody wars.
1.1 The History of Black Lives Matter
The term “Black Lives Matter” was first used in 2013 at a protest against setting George Zimmerman free after killing Trayvon Martin by the court in Florida.
The movement started as a general answer to the ongoing deaths of African Americans when in a row with police. The action finally became popular in the United States after the end of George Floyd.
1.2 The Outbreak of the Movement Black Lives Matter in Australia
According to the Deaths Inside database of The Guardian, 434 black people have died in police custody since 1991. The impact of the Black Lives Matter Movement presented numerous instances of the injustice and prejudice committed by the police against Black people in Australia.
Black People in Australia include both mainland native people and Torres Strait Islanders and are around 2% of Australia’s population. They have been put in prison for tiny reasons for the past few years, and gradually, by 2016, 27% of the total prison population was black people.
The RCIADIC found out that black people were in far greater numbers in prisons. Hence, it recommended that the judiciary use imprisonment as a last option.
Though much is said and written about black people’s deaths in prisons, we also can not pass over their high death rates for natural reasons outside the jails.
Continuous alarming health numbers mark the state of well-being of black people due to a complex combination of social, cultural, and economic situations. This supports the idea that black people’s dire state of health is out of one’s hands.
This also states the condition of systemic racism and uncontrolled force used on them and raises questions about the Australian healthcare system and the country as a whole.
i. Important Cases that Raised the Movement
George Floyd, an African-American man, was held by police for allegedly using fake money in the United States in 2020. There have been incidents with Flyod where he repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe. But without any attention, he was choked to death.
The protest was started to bring Justice to George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police while being held. The riot was mainly to stop the uncontrollable torture used and the high imprisonment rate of African Americans.
George Floyd’s death started many more protests across the United States. They became an essential topic for racial relations, regular bias, and police cruelty.
The protestors wanted to draw attention to forced racism, police cruelty, and black people’s deaths in custody. Later, a few Australians also joined the black lives matter protest to support the uncontrollable torture used against them.
a. Case Study:
David Dungay Jr died at the young age of 26 in Sydney’s Long Bay Correctional Center’s hospital. Dungay, who had diabetes, passed away while being given a painkiller by a prison nurse.
He was being held by five guards who had ordered him to stop eating biscuits. A government-backed report stated that no guards should be punished since they acted due to less awareness. However, the Nursing Board was told to examine the nurse’s professional conduct.
Many black people voiced disappointment over the fact that it took the murder of a black man in the United States to raise their voices against the biases in Australia.
1.3 Reactions and Protests
Numerous demonstrators raised their voices to support Black Lives Matter in Australia by marching through cities and towns. State leaders and Prime Minister Scott Morrison begged people not to attend these demonstrations.
Going against their calls, protesters gathered outside Sydney’s Town Hall and asked for justice for David Dungay, a black man who died in a Sydney prison. The Sydney march took place peacefully except for one or two minor instances.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted that it was a severe issue. But he also questioned people comparing the events in the United States with the Australian state.
1.4 United Nations Take on Black Lives Matter in Australia
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Australia, and the other nations, which count to 138 countries, signed a treaty to take on the protest. The United Nations disapproves of biases against African Americans, Australian aborigines, and the First Nations peoples.
It also encourages the members of UNDRIP to fulfill their responsibilities.
The United Nations recognizes Black Peoples’ rights and supports the Australian government’s work to save these rights.
2. What is the Need of the Hour?
- The Need of the Hour states both Federal and State Governments must look into the cause of the deaths of black people.
- Special attention needs to be given to cases in which the death penalty could have been avoided.
- Black people must be made aware of different platforms through which they could get support when they face bias in the system.
- They should also be helped with money when they seek legal ways to get justice.
- Furthermore, the Need of the Hour is also for recognizing the skills of black people at all levels.
- Black People should also be considered when applying for further opportunities.
- Journals must focus on race-related issues more than poverty and other social and cultural factors.
These laws were passed with the “Need of the hour.“
2.1 To Control Expenses of Police in Australia
Activists are also asking to withdraw funds from police and prison officials and to use them for the welfare of native people. This requires spending on programmes that are likely to remove the social challenges that are blocking human welfare.
For instance, when someone has a mental illness, family members may dial 000 for help. In such cases, a trained staff of rapid response mental health experts is needed, not the cops, who may escalate the situation.
2.2 Revival of the Judicial System in Australia
In Australia, improving the Judicial system is not a new idea. It is essential for many black communities living in rural and remote areas. They are unprotected from injustice done by police because of low levels of support and irregular provision of legal services.
The Australian Law Reform Commission Pathway to Justice Report promotes reviving the ways of the Judicial system in Australia. It is a critical act while dealing with high rates of imprisonment among black people.
The authorities believe that improving the Judicial approach can minimize cases leading to detention. It will focus on finding the root causes of crime, stopping them, and bringing change.
Many people support the idea that money should be used from the criminal system and used in such efforts. Improving the way justice is done involves giving black people decision-making power. To build self-esteem among them.
All programmes have one thing in common: they allow black people to identify their own social and law and order issues and how to address them.
3. End Note
In Australia, government support to uplift black people has been sadly missing so far. A different set of charitable agencies mainly led to the success of Australia’s change of attitude toward the Judiciary drive.
The increasing amount of money spent on maintaining law and order leads to more people landing in jail (especially black people). Therefore, solutions must be created to raise black people’s social stature, and their community feedback must be backed and promoted by the state.
These ways are not answers. They are taking baby steps towards a fresh start of taking account of the Black lives inside the Australian governance set-up. One that shows a more accurate approach to the outcry “Black Lives Matter in Australia.”
I have around a decade of experience in the social welfare and education sector, with a degree of M.Sc (hons) in social anthropology. In my articles, my keenness to know about various cultures and exploring various places is very much reflected. My articles are focussed on historical background, cultural differences, and food preferences of different countries . As my educational background helps me understand the concepts better. I write about the differences and importance of socio-political demography in various places across the world.