In response to state and territory governments issuing on-the-spot fines for breaking social distancing and quarantine rules, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Lidia Thorpe, said:
“Governments are so committed to appearing as though they’re doing the right thing, it is completely blind to the fact that they are making things harder for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
“Indigenous people are already more likely to be locked up; now, our people are even more vulnerable to being fined and locked-up.
“We understand government has to act quickly in response to the threat of COVID-19, but it only underlines how marginalised and disadvantaged some Indigenous communities are when measures designed to protect push some of our people even further to the margins.
“To fine vulnerable people, would be to increase their risk of being incarcerated or even die as a result of coming in contact with the prison system.
“We have stimulus packages announced as a result of people having no work and no money, then we introduce $1600 fines, what if you don’t have a job or a home, how do people pay fines? How do people, who don’t have a home abide by these new rules?
“An example I had from the community this week was a funeral which was watched by police, stopping the mourners from grieving in their traditional way.
“Any response from government needs to be considered and balanced with the needs of all our citizens.”