First Nations deaths taking toll on community


A First Nations man collapsed and died at Greenough Regional Prison on Tuesday afternoon, the second death of an Aboriginal person in custodial care in less than a week. 

This death follows that of a First Nations woman at Wandoo Rehabilitation Prison who had a “medical event” on December 21 and was on life support until Christmas Eve.

In the year leading up to the end of September, 106 people died in custody and 27 per cent were First Nations people.

Quotes attributable to WA Greens Senator and Yamatji-Noongar woman, Dorinda Cox:

“First Nations communities across WA are in distress over yet another death in custody. 

“The final months of 2022 have brought so much grief and sorrow to families who’ve lost loved ones so tragically.

“Following the violent attacks on Cassius Turvey and Diane Miller, our community is now dealing with two deaths in custody over Christmas - when loved ones should be enjoying time with their families.

“We cannot continue to accept First Nations deaths in custody as unavoidable. We need to ensure that everyone in custodial care receives adequate health and mental health care, and access to support services including visits by the community when needed.

“The Commonwealth and State governments have the solutions to change these dire outcomes - they’ve had them for over thirty years.

“I call on state governments to implement all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report handed down in 1991, and the Commonwealth to urgently fund and implement the United Nation’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) which was ratified in 2017. 

“We cannot keep turning a blind eye and accepting these devastating outcomes for First Nations people and their families.”

Quotes attributable to WA Greens MLC, Dr Brad Pettitt:

“These two tragic deaths in custody in short succession around Christmas time are undoubtedly devastating for the families of these relatively young people.  

“WA continues to have the highest rate of incarceration in the nation and it is time that earnest steps were taken to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to do more to ensure these tragedies are not repeated.”