MEDIA RELEASE 4 September 2020

Despite it being nearly 30 years since the recommendations were handed down by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, a further 439 Aboriginal lives have been lost within the justice system. This week the Alice Springs court heard the accounts of Kumanjayi Walker, a 19-year-old, Warlpiri man, who was fatally shot three times by Constable Zachary Rolfe in Yuendumu last year.

Throughout the history of colonised Australia very few police officers have been charged with murder, let alone stood trial, for taking an Aboriginal life. Should the court proceed with the murder charge against Rolfe, the recognition will be of great significance to the 439 families and communities who were not able to find closure for the loss of their loved ones. The court heard yesterday that the committal hearing will be adjourned until 25 September.

Quotes attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

“VALS stands in solidarity with Kumanjayi Walker’s family and community as they continue to demonstrate immense strength, waiting for justice to be served. In the spotlight of the Black Lives Matter movement, the court’s decision on how to proceed will be pivotal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. Here at VALS we watch in anticipation and hope for change.”

Contact: Andreea Lachsz