Greens welcome the start of the inquest into Ms Dhu’s death in custody

Monday, 23 November

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple have welcomed the start of the coronial inquest into Ms Dhu’s death in Western Australia and hope it leads to changes so urgently needed whilst providing some answers to bereaved family and friends.

Senator Rachel Siewert said:                             

“Family and friends have campaigned long and hard for this inquest into Ms Dhu’s death. I hope this finally answers some questions about Ms Dhu’s death and the events leading up to it.

“We welcome the Premier outlining commitments in June to reduce Aboriginal deaths in custody but note that community members are still being locked up for crimes of poverty. 

“We urge the Premier to move towards introducing the custody notification system, a system that works successfully in NSW. It is part of reforms indicated by the Premier but has not been implemented yet.

“In the last three years there has been at least four Aboriginal deaths just at Casuarina alone, not to mention the death of Ms Dhu in Hedland last year and the death of Ms Mandijarra in Broome in 2012, amongst others.

“The Government must implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, one of which is to stop imprisonment for unpaid fines. These deaths must end”.

Robin Chapple MLC said:

“It has been more than a year since Ms Dhu died in South Hedland, my condolences go to her family, friends and the broader Yamatji community who will finally get some answers today.

“The WA Greens recently wrote written to Premier Barnett calling on the state government to address Aboriginal incarceration as a matter of priority following another death in custody at Casuarina State on November 2nd this year.

“There is now a disturbing backlog of Aboriginal deaths in custody awaiting a coronial inquest in Western Australia and there are families across the state who are in pain because they have not had closure.

“I hope this inquest sets the precedent for other families waiting for an inquiry so they can have some closure on the unnecessary death of their loved ones in state care”.

For comment please contact Media liaison Tim Oliver on 9486 8255.


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