The University of Newcastle, Australia

Black Lives Matter statement

Friday, 21 August 2020

As part of its core value of equity, the University of Newcastle is committed to social justice, human rights and the process of reconciliation. One aspect of this commitment is formally endorsing, valuing and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and knowledges.

Black Lives Matter flag held high

Overcoming the inequities of the past is integral to our core values. The University of Newcastle has a long and proud history as a leader amongst tertiary institutions in educational outcomes and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The University of Newcastle stands united with people of colour nationally and internationally in the pursuit of equal rights and treatment in all aspects of life.

The Black Lives Matter movement began in the United States with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Black Lives Matter is a broad-based movement that is an international response to state-sanctioned violence and racism. The goal of Black Lives Matter is to connect people from all over the world who have a shared desire for racial justice to act together in their communities to create a more just and equitable world. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on people of colour in the past and present.

The Black Lives Matter campaign gained widespread momentum following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 at the knee of a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer. Australian people have actively supported the Black Lives Matter movement by highlighting the disproportionate incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These tragic deaths in custody and the associated discrimination that festers in our communities today has resulted in poor relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the systems that are designed to keep them well and safe. Australian Black Lives Matter participants continue to press for public awareness and action in light of the reality that 438 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in police custody since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Parallels have been drawn between the death of George Floyd and Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr. who also exclaimed ‘I can’t breathe’ whilst being pinned down by corrective services officers minutes before his death.

Across Newcastle and the Central Coast, the Black Lives Matter campaign has been active with local community members who have highlighted the preventable death of Rebecca Maher, who in July 2016 died in police custody in the Hunter region.

As a globally leading organisation the University of Newcastle is committed to a culturally responsive environment, one free of bigotry, racism and intolerance. We are proactive in advocating for the rights of people of colour in Australia and around the world. We are committed to facilitating constructive and open discussions about the historical inequities and current realities that exist in Australia and around the world. We support the push for new legislation to end disproportionate unfair treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges that the fight for liberty, justice and freedom continues. Together, we can and will transform Australia to be truly fair and free for all.


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