If you ever find yourself walking down the streets of Redfern in Sydney, you may come across a well-known figure, Ray Jackson. He is pretty hard to miss as he always wears a hat coverved in political badges- often with a matching vest. definitely an old school activist, Ray has devoted decades to the campaign to Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
At present Ray is the president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association. He is also a Wiradjuri man.
There is no doubting Ray's commitment; he spends up to 30 hours a week, sometimes more on investigatong cases, supporting familites of victims and meeting with members of state and federal parliaments.
"Sometimes my kids and grandkids ask me when am I going to give up my activism and I always tell them when one of them is willing to take over the work" he says.
Ray has also participated in the wider Aboriginal struggle and there probably isn't a protest which has been held which he hasn't attended.
However, it has been Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which has taken up most of his time. Despite his and many other activist's efforts, little has improved in Australia since a Royal Commission was held in 1991 looking at indigenous deaths in custody. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations to federal and state government departments responsible for police and prison incarceration. To date, almost none of the recommendations have been implemented.
Instead, the rate of imprisonment of indigenous Australians continues to be high- Indigenous inmates account for a quarter of the prison population but only 2 per cent of the general population- and the rate of deaths in custody has not decreased.