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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8844

Senator LINES (Western Australia) (19:35): I rise tonight to acknowledge the life of Ms Dhu, a young 22-year-old Yamatji woman, a woman described by her mother as 'bubbly', 'family oriented' and as her 'beautiful baby'. Her grandmother said Ms Dhu was 'full of life', 'a happy-go-lucky spirit' and that she would give you the last thing which she had. But sadly and distressingly, Ms Dhu will be remembered as the woman who died an agonising death after being locked up in a police cell in Western Australia for just over $3,000 in fines. Here is the chronology of Ms Dhu's death:


AUGUST 2, 2014

5 pm—Arrested for unpaid fines and taken to the South Hedland Police Station lock-up in WA

8 pm—Complains of severe pain when breathing

9.15 pm—Transferred to Hedland Health Campus

9.35 pm—Final diagnosis is 'behaviour issues'. Given oxycodone and diazepam, and released back into custody

AUGUST 3, 2014

8 am—Taken to have a shower and complains of rib soreness

2 pm—Given two paracetamol

4.20 pm—Complains of body pain and arrangements are made to send her back to hospital

4.40 pm—Difficulty breathing and is given a paper bag to breathe into

4.50 pm—Taken to hospital

6.45 pm—Doctor gets the impression she is withdrawing from drugs or has behavioural issues

7.05 pm—Given diazepam and paracetamol, and released back into custody

AUGUST 4, 2014

12.25 am—Given two paracetamol

7 am—Complains of not being able to feel her legs and requests hospital treatment

9 am—Vomits into a plastic cup

11.40 am—Claims her hands are blue but police do not agree

11.45 am—Sits but falls backwards and hits her head on the concrete floor twice

12.05 pm—Taken to the shower and complains of pain, not being able to move her legs and a numb mouth

12.30 pm—Police handcuff her, drag her to the cell door because she cannot walk, then carry her to a police van—

they loaded her into the back of the van, with no police presence, and drove to the hospital—

12.45 pm—Arrive at hospital and she slumps into a wheelchair

1.40 pm—She is declared dead

This was a young life cut way too short. Ms Dhu was the victim of a brutal system, a system which is racist at its core—a racist system which means Aboriginal people fear the police; a system which clearly failed to show due respect and care to Ms Dhu; a racist system which ended Ms Dhu's life. May Ms Dhu's spirit rest in peace.