The Australian Greens are urging the new WA Government to urgently consider the WA coroner’s recommendation that police lose the power to arrest and detain intoxicated people for street drinking and other measures that will help reduce Aboriginal incarceration rates and deaths in custody.
“This was yet another death in custody that could have been prevented by simple measures such as welfare checks, hospitalisation or notification of family and community. It is heart breaking to see yet another death in custody that could have been prevented”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“We have the knowledge and the expertise on how to fix these issues, we just need a Government that can see that the current approach does not work.
“We have world high rates of Indigenous incarceration in our state.
"More than 2 decades ago the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody identified the arrest and detention of Aboriginal people for public drunkenness as a concern, and so many years later we still have deaths in custody because of public intoxication being handled inappropriately.
“In NSW the introduction of the custody notification system has seen a dramatic decrease in Aboriginal deaths in custody and has been immensely successful. There have been no Aboriginal deaths in custody since 2000, apart from when sadly the service was not used because of a loophole in the legislation. What are we waiting for in WA?
“Premier McGowan has the opportunity to create his legacy in WA and fix our broken system and ensure that there are no more deaths.
“I urge the new WA Government to take on board the coroner’s recommendations and review this matter as well as the ongoing practice of taking people into custody for unpaid fines – which resulted in the death of Ms Dhu.
“Ms Dhu and Ms Mandijarra deserved better and we must act now.”