CityHub: Remembering TJ Hickey amidst government failures in closing the gap

The twentieth anniversary of the passing of TJ Hickey, a young Indigenous individual, serves as yet another stark reminder of the numerous First Nations individuals who have lost their lives due to encounters with law enforcement or correctional systems. 

This anniversary coincides with the release of an update on the Closing the Gap report by the Federal Government, marking the sixteenth anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous People. This report has shown that progress on some target have gone backwards. 

TJ Hickey, a 17 year old member of the Gamilaraay community, tragically lost his life during a pursuit by NSW Police on the 14th of February 2004. The police were patrolling Redfern and Waterloo, searching for an unidentified suspect who had committed a robbery outside Redfern Station. Despite having no evidence linking TJ to the crime, the police mounted one of their paddy wagons on the footpath, resulting in TJ being thrown from his bike, and being impaled upon a fence. He died in hospital the following day, sparking the Redfern Riots.

Lydia Shelly, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, “Sadly, TJ’s death is just one death out of hundreds of First Nations men and women who have died in the context of contact with law enforcement or corrections.”

“We share the pain not only of TJ’s family, but the families of Cleveland Dodd, Jai Wright and the families and communities of the hundreds of other First Nations men and women who are still demanding justice.”

Against the backdrop of governmental shortcomings in closing the gap, the twentieth anniversary of TJ's passing serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing disparities faced by Indigenous communities.

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