Media Statement: Deaths in Custody

Reconciliation SA Media Statement

15th April 2021


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are advised that this statement discusses deaths in custody and may contain or mention of people who have passed.


On this 30th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody we acknowledge the suffering of First Nation peoples impacted by the injustice of being overly represented in detention, incarceration and subject to systemic racism.

The 339 recommendations from the Royal Commission provided a clear pathway to addressing deaths in custody and the disproportionate number of First Nation peoples entering and re-entering the criminal justice system.

In 2021, we are still witnessing the continued loss of life of First Nation peoples in custody (according to the Guardian, 474 since the Royal Commission). We still bear witness to First Nation people representing almost 30% of the Australian prison population, while only 3% of the Australian population.

We call on federal and state governments, with fair and just mindset, to appropriately resource and oversee effective implementation of all the Commission’s recommendations, noting that a significant number of recommendations have yet to be fully implemented.

Reconciliation SA is committed to upholding the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which highlights:

“Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are alienated from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.”

These words and sentiments are not lost on us, Australians have waited long enough for this unacceptable situation to be addressed. We call on our members, allies, friends and all South Australians to support change.


Call for Action

The current status quo is simple not acceptable, 5 deaths since March 2021 cannot go on unanswered, our community, our nation, our children deserve to grow and live in a society that values all citizens, including the First Peoples of this Nation.

We call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 years of age to at least 14 and support the aims of the Raise the Age campaign. We implore the federal and state governments to take action and call for an end to the high rates of incarceration of First Nation people, so we support the aims of Change the Record campaign.

Reconciliation SA Co-Chairs the Justice Reinvestment Board of SA, we call on our government to increase its investment in such initiatives.

We call on South Australian parliament and the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee to review South Australia’s implementation of the recommendations from the Royal Commission and create greater transparency and accountability on the status and progress of ALL of these recommendations.


What can you do?

  • Support the Raise the Age and Change the Record campaigns
  • Unlearn and Relearn by reading ALRMs Royal Commission recommendations here
  • Get online and attend a virtual event hosted by NATSILS here
  • Listen to First Nation leaders and their experiences, by joining a free webinar with Senator Pat Dodson here
  • Sign NATSILS petition calling on the Prime Minister to meet with families whose loved ones have died in custody here
  • Email your federal and state Members of Parliament asking for change and raising their awareness of campaigns, education opportunities and events.

Reconciliation SA’s Schools Film Competition

Reconciliation South Australia’s Film Competition


We are excited to be holding a Primary and Secondary School competition to celebrate National Reconciliation Week for 2021.


Reconciliation SA encourages ALL students (First Nation and non-First Nation) to work together in producing a film that embraces the theme of Reconciliation week 2021 “More than a word. Reconciliation takes Action”. 


Get creative!


You can submit a fictional story, a documentary, an interview with important people in your school, an animation, you could film yourselves doing a dance, contributing to a group artwork or so much more.

The possibilities are endless – the only rule is to get it on film and submit it using the entry requirements below.

Who is encouraged to enter

Reception to year 12 – teams of First Nation and non-First Nation students working together. 


Theme for the entry must be the 2021 NRW theme of

“More than words – Reconciliation takes action” 


Entry Requirements

Length – 3 to 5 minutes 

Aspect Ratio –  16:9 


  • 2160p: 3840×2160 
  • 1440p: 2560×1440  
  • 1080p: 1920×1080
  • 720p: 1280×720  

 Applicants for this competition will assist their school in undertaking activities that: 

  • Provide opportunities for First Nation and non-First Nation peoples to come together in shared learning opportunities. 
  • Contribute to ongoing positive relationships between First Nation peoples and the education community. 
  • Increase opportunities for First Nations cultural appreciation activities within the learning environment. 
  • Ensuring that First Nation and non-First Nation peoples are involved in the planning, design, and delivery of the multimedia production. 
  • Encourage students to be creative with their multimedia productions for example time lapses, songs, animation, dance.



To be eligible for this funding you must be a South Australian:  

  • Department for Education Primary or Secondary School
  • AISSA Primary or Secondary School 
  • CESA Primary or Secondary School  


Judging Criteria

The panel will judge the film on the following criteria: 

  • Does the film meet entry requirements? 
  • Is there a clear vision and understanding of reconciliation in the film? 
  • Is the film original and creative? 



  • Feature article on Reconciliation SA website on winning team 
  • Schools Wall Mural to the value of $2,000 with a First Nation artist/s and biography piece about artist/s 


Submit your film to our dropbox


The competition closes on Friday 21st May 2021.