Rally for Justice – no more deaths in custody

There was a call made at parliament house protest to organise a large rally at Queen’s Park on the 20th anniversary of the Royal Commission findings into black deaths in custody. Hardly any of these recommendations have been adopted and still someone dies in custody on a regular basis.

Friday 15 April · 11:00 – 14:00
Queens Park
Elizabeth Street
Brisbane, Australia

A wide range of people including QUT students turned up and  listened to Brisbane Murris oppose the decision that allows the 6 police who lied and covered-up the murder of Mulrunji Doomadgee by Senior Sgt Hurley on 19 Nov 2004 on Palm Island. Deputy Police Commissioner Kathy Rynders has refused to charge any of the police involved in the cover-up on Palm Island. As the morning went on more and  more people came to listen to these calls for justice. Meanwhile inside the parliament was a bun fight about the new leader of the Liberal national party, Campbell-Newman.  It was a comic session with both sides of parliament trading abuse about who should hold power. ‘Bring it (the election) on, bring it on were the puerile shouts from the opposition in the chamber.

People outside the parliament vowed not to give up the fight for justice.

Speakers included Timothy Cummins (Bgwcolman), John Leemans (Gurindji strike leader, NT), Sam Watson (Birri-Gubba), Coco Wharton (Cooma), Connie Andrews (Mapoon), Aunty Alex Gator (Cherbourg), Burrugubba (Babinburra Clan of the Wangan people), and others.

Timothy Cummins said that there was no riot on Palm Island.

This is  a fiction invented by police, media, politicians and now the literary scene and filmmakers. What happened on Palm was resistance. Resistance against murder, lies and cover-ups.

He challenged the accounts made in two books.  They are white man’s views and asked ‘what about our views?’

He cast blame on the government saying that he was sick of coming here and standing at the gate but no-one comes out and no justice is done.

Tim criticised the books produced after the murder of Mulrunji – ‘The Tall Man’ and ‘Gone for a Song’. Here is the message of the protest:


4 thoughts on “Rally for Justice – no more deaths in custody

  1. Les Malezer says:

    [Aboriginal News]

    Senate backs Greens’ Motion on Deaths in Custody

    The Senate today formally acknowledged that this year marks twenty years since of the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, supporting a motion put by Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues.

    Senator Siewert said the Senate has drawn attention to the continuing high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a rate that continues to rise in an alarming fashion.

    “Twenty years after the Royal Commission we are still seeing disproportionately high rates of deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Senator Siewert said.

    “It is disappointing that the majority of the recommendations of the Royal Commission have not been fully implemented.

    “We look forward to the release of the report into the progress in implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission by the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service later in the year, and will continue to work to see the recommendations put into practice.

    “Implementing these measures is an essential part of meeting international human rights obligations,” concluded Senator Siewert.

    Notice of Motion
    20 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Senator Rachel Siewert

    I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:

    That the Senate:

    Notes that the 15th April 2010 will denote 20 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.

    Draws attention to increasing and alarmingly high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are 14 times more likely to be incarcerated and represent 26% of our prison population (despite representing less than 3% of our total population).

    Between 2000 and 2010 their rate of imprisonment increased from 1,248 to 1,892 prisoners per 100,000 adults, as compared to a change from 130 t0 134 non-Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adults.

    Raises concern at continuing disproportionately high rates of deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with 269 deaths in custody since the report in 1991 (that is, nearly one in five of all deaths in custody).

    Expresses concern that twenty years later the majority of the recommendations of the Royal Commission have not been fully implemented.

    Calls on the Australian Government to:

    • Consider the outcomes of current reviews underway into the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, undertake to report on progress and gaps, and map out further action
    • Work with the States and Territories to undertake an audit of standards and independent monitoring of places of detention and consider options to promote consistency across jurisdictions

  2. Gerry Georgatos says:

    The Human Rights Alliance
    Media Release: Senate Select Committee Inquiry into the Deaths in Custody of the Warburton Elder and at Palm Island.

    The Human Rights Alliance is calling for a Senate Inquiry to be urgently convened as a Select Committee Inquiry into the deaths in custody of the Warburton Elder (Western Australia) and at Palm Island (Queensland).

    April 15 shall mark 20 years since the release of the Final Report and the 339 recommendations from the 1987-1991 Royal Commission into Australian Deaths in Custody.

    These two deaths must be demarcated to the Australian Senate as many believe that justice has not been served by the relevant Western Australian and Queensland authorities.

    These two deaths in custody should be reopened firstly for the pursuit of justice for the grieving families and communities and secondly for these type of deaths, if findings are upheld by the Australian Senate, never to reoccur in our Australia.

    From 1980 to 2008 there have been 2056 deaths in prison and police custody. During the last two years there have been an additional thereabouts 160 deaths in custody. The annual average of deaths in custody in 1991 was 71, it is now 78, with the last verifiable year, 2008, recording 86 deaths. Suicides totalled 494.

    A Select Committee of the Australian Senate must undertake the responsibility to determine whether prima facie cases exist in these deaths. A Select Committee of the Australian Senate must undertake the responsibility to determine if there are cultures of nepotism, favour dispensation, of inherent human weaknesses, of various improprieties and if so then legislate and oblige pursuant remedies.

    A Select Committee of the Australian Senate must undertake the responsibility to determine whether racial or other forms of discrimination contributed to these deaths. If the Australian Senate does not undertake such responsibility then the Australian landscape will continue to be tainted by imputations of systemic racism and subsequent practices, and other inter-generational biases and prejudices, which many of us believe to be the case.

    WA has three times the national average for Aboriginal deaths in custody. 18% of all deaths in custody are Aboriginal, which is at least 6 times the rate to the percentage of the Australian population Aboriginal peoples represent. However 82% of deaths in custody are non-Aboriginal and these alone represent a terrible record when compared with trends around the world.
    The Human Rights Alliance calls for the urgent Senate Select Committee Inquiry into these two tragic deaths which are now forever remembered on our Australian landscape and which have tragically touched so many lives for so long.

    “It is not possible that in 2,056 deaths in custody from 1980 to 2008, and the 160 thereabout deaths since 2008, that there could have been no criminality, no criminal negligence, no successful prosecution. This is why we need independent Police and Prison Inspectorates that do not interact with the Police and Prison Services, and thus eliminate imputations, and report directly to State Parliaments.”
    Gerry Georgatos, PhD (Law) researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody.

    Gerry Georgatos, Convener of The Human Rights Alliance, Phd (Law) researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody.
    Working towards a Better Future

    We acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians whose ancestral lands we are now part of. We acknowledge and remember the horrific atrocities inflicted upon them. This is and will forever be their land.

    MEDIA CONTACT: 0430 657 309

  3. Ray Jackson says:

    gerry georgatos has called on the members of the federal senate to form a select committee to investigate, initially, the deaths of mr. ward in wa and the death of mulrunji doomadgee in qld. both of these deaths still continue to give one a bad taste knowing that real justice has yet to be found for the families, communities, friends and honest people who share our real concern that true justice has yet to happen.

    from 1 january 1980 to 31 december 2010 there has beena total of 2216 deaths in custody of which some 18% have been of aboriginal and torres strait islander descent even though we number less than 3% of the national population. i thank gerry for allowing me to use his figures to put my views. overall there has been an average of all custodial deaths to the end of 2010 of 73.86 per year. atsi deaths average 13.29 per year for a total of 398.88 for the 30 years. atsi deaths have numbered more than 1 per month for thirty years!!! non-atsi deaths have numbered 60.57 per year or an average of just over 5 deaths every month for 30 years.

    these are indeed mind-boggling figures but i continue to believe that they most certainly lean on the side of coservatism. i have stated for several years now that the total for atsi dic has exceeded 400 and it is becoming more and more difficult to keep up to date with the real numbers of dic as the custodial authorities attempt to hide their dic. the police are notorius in arguing that some of their dic are not true dic so should not be identified as such. high speed police pursuits are generally manipulated to be able to say that they were not ‘chasing’ the other vehicle and had called the pursuit off literally a couple of minutes prior to the subsequent crash and deaths.

    police are well trained in high speed pursuits and learn how to assess that a vehicle is on the edge of losing control and crashing thus allowing them to pull back and merely await the inevitable. isja has argued for years that those police vehicles used for pursuits must have fitted a black-box type device that records not only the car movements but the conversations of the occupants once a speed in excess of, say, 120k is reached. naturally the police have shown absolutely no interest in this monitoring device.

    since the founding of the aboriginal deaths in custody watch committee was formed in april/may 1987 there has been ongoing discussions on widening the definition of dic to include those atsi individuals who were/are incarcerated or held against their will in psychiatric instutions, hospitals, etc. and had died should also be counted as a type 2 dic. sadly we were never able to convince australian governments to adopt this scheme.

    gerry has nominated just 2 dic and i am sure that he could name very many more as worthy of investigation as the 2 he named. i believe that, with family permission, the death of 16 year old john pat must also be relooked at. among others of course from wa. in qld the death of ‘the dancer’ must also be included in any future list. for nsw the cases and cover-ups of the deaths at the hands of the police of eddie murray in a wee waa police cell must also be re-opened. the coroner found that it would have been impossible for eddie to hang himself as he was too inebriated to do so. the coroner found that eddie had died ‘at the hand or hands of persons unknown.’ the murray family has fought for over 20 years without obtaining justice. it is time they did. sadly his mother has left us.

    likewise, the tragic death of 17 year old tj hickey arising from a police pursuit some 7 years ago has denied justice to the hickey family. justice was bent next to breaking point by the then-carr government, the police and the coroners court in exonerating the redfern police from any blame whatsoever.

    a nt case that continually screams out for justice is the 20+ year battle of the scott family in an heroic attempt to bring to justice the 4 gaol officers involved in the murder of douglas bruce scott in berrimah gaol in 1985. letty did everything and anything in her search for justice to bring peace to bruce, herself and their son, nathan. they sought justice in australia, they sought justice overseas and finally in the supreme court of the nt, justice angel cowardly decided that he could not come up with justice but instead handed down an open verdict stating that he could not make up his legal mind as to whether the 4 gaol officers were guilty or not. a travesty of justice. if he could not make up his mind as to the facts he should have referred the matter to a full bench of the supreme court or even referred it to the high court.

    i could of course go on but the above cases show quite clearly that we are never ever allowed to win!!!!!!!

    the mabo/wik decisions exampled that quite clearly. howard and fischer came up with the 10 point plan for ‘bucketloads of extinguishment’ of which senator harridine and frank brennan reduced to 7 agreed points because they did not want a racist election. what rot, for atsi peoples every election is a racist election. even before we were counted in 1967. neither harridine or brennan consulted with the aboriginal people or their then representatives.

    it seems we are only allowed assimilation and ‘sorry business’.

    i strongly urge all who read this to make contact with your senate members of whatever party but especially bob brown and nick xenophon informing them that we want a senate enquiry into all deaths in custody and our custodial systems. our custodial systems must be made to work for us as a suppossedly humane society.

    we do not have the death penalty in this country, why should we accept one because our police,gaol and health officers are either too lazy or too venal to accept their statutory duty of care to those under their control.


    ray jackson
    indigenous social justice association

  4. Gerry Georgatos says:

    That’s a very small step in the right direction: We knew it would occur to signal allegiance to the cause and the campaign for remedy, however it is attrition and a long way from home and it is cowardice that a Senate Inquiry is yet to be called. Rachel Siewert has neglected much and this is the problem. Acknowledging somethings is not remedy. Gerry Georgatos.

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