Another death in custody adds fuel to protests

A 31-year-old Aboriginal man has died in a Perth prison, as hundreds rally around the Australia to protest another Western Australian death in custody.

The deaths both happened within the last 3 months.

Protesters rallied in Perth, Brisbane. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, South Hedland and Geraldton to demand answers over the death of Jjulieka Dhu a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman..

Ms Dhu, 22, died in August after being locked up in the South Hedland Police Station over unpaid fines.

She complained of pain while being held in a police lock-up and was twice taken to the Hedland Health Campus before being released and returned to custody.

She reportedly did not see a doctor during either visit.

And information just published by the ABC reveals further neglect of Ms Dhu before her death.

In a letter obtained by the ABC, the district medical officer said on a third visit Ms Dhu arrived unconscious, without a pulse, and not breathing.

An autopsy report apparently could not determine a cause of death.

However there was evidence of possibly refractured ribs, a head injury and bleeding around the lungs, among other signs of ill health.

An internal police investigation is underway into Ms Dhu’s death and a report is being prepared for the Coroner, but today the calls continue for an independent inquiry as well as strategies to help avoid deaths in custody.

Last night a 31 year old Aboriginal man was found unresponsive in his cell during a routine check.

He was unable to be revived.

The Department of Corrective Services issued a statement expressing condolences and promising an inquiry.

Head of the Deaths in Watch Committee Marc Newhouse said he was told the man had taken his own life.

“It’s devastating and this tells us and the Government knows this – that there is something terribly wrong with our system, particularly in relation to prisons, but also in police custody,” Mr Newhouse said.

“The Royal Commission [into deaths in custody two decades ago] made recommendations around removal of all ligature points in prisons and police lock ups. Clearly that has not occurred in this case,” he said.

“This is appalling and needs to be addressed immediately.

“We don’t have any detail, but we are very, very concerned and we are going to get to the bottom of this. The Government needs to act.

Modified from an ABC article.


Four police officers will stand trial accused of bashing an Aboriginal man at Ballina on the New South Wales north coast.

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA

340th death since end of the Royal Commission

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