Follow by Email

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ms Dhu's treatment by police inhumane

Ms Dhu, her Christian name is withheld because of cultural reasons

Last night on ABC's 7.30 Report, we saw a very sick young Aboriginal woman, Ms Dhu, being handled by police with contempt.

Footage of a female police officer lifting her off the bed and letting her drop heavily onto a hard floor was hard to watch. And it told a story - there was zero compassion here because they thought she was pretending.

But it wasn't only the police who were totally uncaring, twice she was sent to hospital and twice, medical staff failed to pick up on what was wrong, and sent her back to the cells.

She had suffered two broken ribs after her partner threw her to the ground on April 2014, but one of her ribs didn't heal properly and became infected.  The coroner found the infection entered her bloodstream more than once when she was injecting herself with amphetamines.

Ms Dhu had been detained at the South Hedland Police Station lock up for three days for unpaid fines totalling $3,622, a stupid law that needs to be changed.

Ms Dhu's mother Della Roe said no-one has been held accountable for her death.  And it's true, nobody has - not one police officer nor any of the medical staff.

Okay, they had no way of knowing that infection was raging inside her body but they didn't even bother to take her temperature or give her an x-ray.  If they had, one simple dose of antibiotics would have saved her life.

One doctor diagnosed her as having "behavioural issues" before sending her back.

Footage of Ms Dhu being dragged like a sack of potatoes to a van waiting to take her to hospital for the third time was hard to watch. They took her to the Hedland Health Health Campus where she died shortly after.

The coroner said "The behaviour towards her by a number of police officers was unprofessional and inhumane.  Their behaviour was affected by preconceptions they had formed about her."

There are people who will say that she was typical of what happens in Aboriginal communities.  Men beat their partners on a regular basis and she was a drug user.

But it shouldn't matter.  She was in the care of police who failed to recognise her need for urgent medical attention.  It's a disgrace. 
And it's racist.