Media Release: Remembering TJ Hickey amidst government failures to close the gap

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of First Nations teenager, TJ Hickey. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties joins his family, friends, and the First Nations community in solemn remembrance.

On February 14, 2004, TJ tragically died after being impaled on a fence during interactions with NSW Police. His death remains deeply etched in the hearts and minds of his family, friends, and the First Nations community.

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President 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.”

“TJ’s death is a painful reminder that there is an urgent need for justice and accountability. The lack of clarity and accountability surrounding TJ’s death underscores systemic issues within our justice system and heightens concerns regarding law enforcement actions.”

“The fact remains that New South Wales has the highest rates of deaths in custody in Australia and we cannot walk the path towards true reconciliation if we are unable to face this shameful truth.”

“As we remember TJ today, we also confront the stark reality highlighted in this year's Closing the Gap report released by the Australian Productivity Commission. The government's failure to adequately address the disparities faced by Indigenous communities is glaringly evident, with just four out of 19 targets on track to be bridged. This represents a failure to progress on more than four-fifths of the targets, with four measures even regressing.”

“This lamentable state of affairs underscores the continued neglect and marginalisation experienced by First Nations people. TJ Hickey's tragic death serves as a poignant reminder that despite two decades passing, little progress has been made in addressing the systemic injustices faced by First Nations communities.”

“The NSW Council for Civil Liberties stands in solidarity with the First Nations community as they mourn the death of TJ.”

“Black deaths in custody is a national shame.”

“We stand in solidarity with the First Nations community in their demands for justice and accountability.”