Historic national stop deaths in custody coalition formed

30 April 2013 -- On Sunday 10 February, 2013 an historic event occurred that linked social justice and stop deaths in custody organisations around Australia in a phone hook-up to allow for national actions to be put in place when a death in custody event occurs or when other important matter occurs that requires a national response and coordinated action by the Coalition.

The organisations taking part are:
- the Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne, in Victoria;
- the Indigenous Social Justice Association - Sydney, in NSW;
- the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (WA) – in Perth, and
- the Death in Custody Watch Group, Far North Queensland in Cairns.

Groups in other States and Territories have expressed interest in joining the Coalition.

The first project of the new coalition will be a nationally coordinated Day of Action on 28 September 2013 to show that 30 years after the criminal death of 16-year-old John Pat at Roebourne, WA, there still has been no justice for the Pat Family.

To address this tragic issue we fully support the demands of Mavis Pat, mother of John Pat. Mavis Pat is demanding that, “an apology be made by the WA Government for my son's death, that an ex-gratia payment be made as compensation, that the 5 drunken off-duty police officers responsible for the death of John Pat be brought to account and that there be a re-opening of the Coronial Inquest into my son's death and finally that all Australian Governments take action against racism in the police and the criminal justice system.”

After exhaustive discussion between the four groups and their representatives many National objectives for this day of action were agreed to.

The landmark phone hook up also agreed to strengthen and build the Coalition and its campaigns around the country.

The Coalition will:

- highlight that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody failed to convict any custodial officer of criminal actions causing death and that its 339 Recommendations were mainly rejected, especially by the police forces nationally, but also by prisons and juvenile justice centres in all States and Territories.

- highlight the human aspects of Deaths in Custody and demand the urgent need to improve culturally appropriate custodial health services, including mental health services as well as the necessity of entrenching an understanding of custodial Duty of Care by all custodial officers.

- connect Aboriginal Deaths in Custody to the broader social justice issues of Aboriginal Sovereignty and Treaties and the key need for cultural solutions that empower Aboriginal Communities.

- popularise legitimate demands for lasting solutions including the establishment of elected Civilian Police Review Boards that will be accountable to communities and put and end to the infamous practice of police investigating police.

The theme of the National Day of Action to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of John Pat is “Thirty Years But Still No Justice — National Day of Action to Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody! Remember John Pat and the hundreds who have died in custody since! Support the demands made by John Pat’s mother, Mavis Pat.”

The rally will also raise the following demands:
- Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody and end the racist persecution of Aboriginal people;
- Build communities not prisons — end privatisation of custodial services;
- Hold the police and other custodial authorities to public account;
- End the ongoing harassment of deaths custody families and provide government funding for national meetings of death in custody families to formulate a national solution.

For interviews contact:

Cairns – Jeanie Little, 07 4057 6642 or 07 4059 1535
Melbourne – Alison Thorne, 0411 080 031
Perth – Bruce Campbell, 0409 947 457
Sydney – Ray Jackson, 0450 651 063



This is great news on a totally necessary cause that is devastating to work on, especially in public.
Thanks to who keep on being out there in the media, I only hope that our support can alleviate some of the pain, the price paid to try to for real justice, to remember the dead, to try to stop the killing by murderous systems.
~May they rest in Peace~