Sign reading 'We Stand Together' on Aboriginal Flag at a rally

Statement on Coronial findings of NSW police unconscious bias and racism, Jacinta Rose 'Cindy' Smith and Mona Lisa Smith inquiry

Amnesty International Australia is appalled with the lack of care and respect shown by NSW Police when investigating the deaths of First Nations cousins, Jacinta Rose ‘Cindy’ Smith and Mona Lisa Smith in 1987, after an inquest found that their deaths were not adequately investigated by detectives at the time due to racial bias.

In 2022, a NSW parliamentary inquiry found that Coroners should be granted greater power to ensure recommendations made during an inquest were implemented. Amnesty International supports the finding of this inquiry and calls upon the Minns government to legislate this recommendation to prevent systemic failures in institutions like the NSW police leading to more deaths.

Amnesty International reiterates its call for state and territory governments to implement the recommendations of The Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody (1991), along with recommendations from organisations such as the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and the Dhadjowa Foundation.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that the families of these girls are still waiting for answers about how they died, thirty seven years later, and that they experienced such racism from NSW Police during this whole process,”

Rachael McPhail, Indigenous Rights Campaigner

“Just seven months ago, the NSW police union responded to the Coroner’s finding that police treated the family of young Gomeroi man Gordan Copeland without respect or care by saying that coronial inquests unfairly target police. It’s clear from comments like this, as well as the ongoing mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander by NSW police, that police cannot be left to voluntarily implement recommendations from the Coroner.”

“We know when recommendations from inquiries are properly implemented it can save lives. For example, the implementation of the Custody Notification Service in NSW, which was a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, has seen Aboriginal deaths in custody significantly reduced.”

In addition to the swift implementation of recommendations of Coronial inquests and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody, Amnesty International calls on NSW police to ensure significant cultural change within the force.

“What have the police put in place to change the unconscious bias that leads to overt racism within the force?”

Uncle Rodney Dillon, Indigenous Rights Advisor