Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day hypocrisy

The Barnett Government has just wasted millions of dollars to stage "Australia's largest fireworks display" over the Perth CBD. They can find money for fireworks but not to compensate a community or hold someone accountable for a death in custody.

Two years after the death* of distinguished Aboriginal elder and community leader Mr Ward in the back of a government owned prison van, the Barnett government has still failed to compensate the family and has taken no action to hold anyone accountable for the death. The Government's response has been to delay action at every stage. The Attorney General Christian Porter has continually prevaricated and avoided action and indicated that compensation and government action is subject to "budgetary constraints". (you can read the Attorney General's letter to the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Group here. The letter took him nearly 3 months to reply)

Despite a scathing coroner's report no charges have been bought against the corporation that ran the prisoner transport system, or the officers involved. In fact the corporation involved has been rewarded with a contract extension here in WA and has been awarded a new contract to run prisoner transport in Victoria.

The WA Deaths in Watch Custody Group continues to campaign for justice for Mr Ward's family and to ensure accountability for the death. You can read more about forthcoming events and actions here. or follow what is happening on their Facebook page. Please support them

* Two years ago Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder from Warburton in outback WA, died in the back of a prisoner transport van. At the time he was in the custody of the WA police and prisoner transport company GSL (now G4S). In the words of the Coroner, Alistair Hope, who examined Mr Ward’s death, Mr Ward ‘suffered a terrible death which was wholly unnecessary and avoidable’.

As a result of his horrific death, a campaign was initiated by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) to demand justice for Mr Ward, and to ensure that changes are made to the corrective services system to ensure that this can never happen again.