Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Death in custody of a 22 year old woman in South Hedland

MEDIA STATEMENT

29 August 2014

The comments below, in relation to the recent death in custody of a 22 year old woman in South Hedland, have been made by Mr. Peter Collins, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, Director of Legal Services.

“It is an unimaginable tragedy that yet another young Aboriginal life has been lost in police custody. The fact that this young woman had been incarcerated for not paying fines simply compounds that tragedy.

It is also deeply troubling that she appears to have been held in a police lock up for several days, rather than having been transferred to a jail immediately following her arrest.

Reporting of the circumstances of the deceased’s detention at the lock up and what transpired at the hospital raise serious concerns about the quality of custodial and medical care provided, which ALSWA will seek to rigorously examine when it represents the family of the deceased at the Coronial Inquest.

The death regrettably highlights this simple truth – all the public utterances by government and others about the appalling rate of Aboriginal incarceration in this State is simply posturing and doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless something meaningful and concrete is done to address it on the ground.

Locking Aboriginal people up for not paying their fines is not only inhumane, it is grossly inappropriate and if what occurred here is anything to go by, life threatening.

It shouldn’t happen in a modern civilised society, but it does in WA, all too frequently, if you are Aboriginal” said Peter Collins.

“It is an unimaginable tragedy that yet another young Aboriginal life has been lost in police custody. The fact that this young woman had been incarcerated for not paying fines simply compounds that tragedy.

It is also deeply troubling that she appears to have been held in a police lock up for several days, rather than having been transferred to a jail immediately following her arrest.

Reporting of the circumstances of the deceased’s detention at the lock up and what transpired at the hospital raise serious concerns about the quality of custodial and medical care provided, which ALSWA will seek to rigorously examine when it represents the family of the deceased at the Coronial Inquest.

The death regrettably highlights this simple truth – all the public utterances by government and others about the appalling rate of Aboriginal incarceration in this State is simply posturing and doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless something meaningful and concrete is done to address it on the ground.

Locking Aboriginal people up for not paying their fines is not only inhumane, it is grossly inappropriate and if what occurred here is anything to go by, life threatening.

It shouldn’t happen in a modern civilised society, but it does in WA, all too frequently, if you are Aboriginal” said Peter Collins.

Contact ALSWA

1800 019 900
ALSWA Freecall from anywhere in WA.

7 Aberdeen Street
Perth WA 6000
(near McIver Train Station)

Phone: +61 8 9265 6666
Fax: +61 8 9221 1767
URGENT AFTER HOURS Criminal Matter:
08 9265 6644
Send a message

ALSWA Services

ALSWA provides legal advice and representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in WA in Criminal, Family, Civil and Human Rights Law with additional services in community legal education, advocacy and the protection and promotion of human rights .

For detailed information about the services ALSWA provides, click the button below:

View our services

Warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this website may contain images and names of people who have passed away.

Sponsored By

lex
ms

Banner images by GDAYWA