MEDIA RELEASE 27 August 2020

VALS stands in solidarity with Tanya Day’s family at this incredibly difficult time, and supports their call for accountability and justice. The Day family has courageously and tirelessly advocated for justice for Tanya Day, for an end to police impunity, for no other families to experience the loss and pain they have had to endure.

VALS supports the Day Family’s assertion that “it is in the public interest – and the interests of Aboriginal people across Australia – that the police be held accountable for their actions”. With the Coroner’s referral of Tanya Day’s matter for criminal investigation of the police officers’ conduct, there was an opportunity to achieve justice. This opportunity has been squandered, and it has been squandered in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum across the world, and in Australia.

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought national attention to the long-standing injustice of Aboriginal deaths in custody, with the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being amplified by the solidarity and outrage of non-Aboriginal Australians. And despite the Victorian community demanding that the entrenched injustices of the criminal legal system be addressed, police continue to investigate police, and the system which fails our people continues to fail our people.

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

Tanya Day’s family have suffered an immeasurable loss, and they have been courageous and resilient in their pursuit of justice. The system should be a safety net, it should protect us. Aboriginal people should not be dying in custody, and the system has to change. That is what Aboriginal people have been calling for in decades-long advocacy that has been led by the families whose loved ones have died while in custody, while ostensibly in the care of the State.

Changing the system means ending police impunity, it means addressing the legacy of colonisation in our criminal legal system and institutions, it means acknowledging systemic racism and making a genuine commitment to ending it. It means listening to those whose family members have died in custody, and ensuring that justice is done.

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Contact: Andreea Lachsz
alachsz@vals.org.au