We have news to share about an important case that so many of you have supported on the long road to justice.
On 29 December 2015, David Dungay Jr, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man, was killed in Long Bay Prison Hospital after being restrained for eating a packet of biscuits. He was held down with force by six guards. His last words were “I can’t breathe.”
No one has ever been prosecuted for David’s death.
David’s mother, Dunghutti elder Leetona Dungay, has been fighting for justice for all these years, and the National Justice Project has walked with her for every step of the journey.
Taking Leetona’s case to the UN
Together with the Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research and international human rights barristers, Jen Robinson and Geoffrey Robertson KC, we supported Leetona to lodge a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee against Australia about breaching David’s right to life and the Government’s failure to hold anyone accountable.
The Australian Government has made a damning concession to the United Nations, admitting that it will not challenge Leetona’s complaint.
This is a huge win for Leetona, but there’s still more work to do. We need the United Nations Human Rights Committee to make clear that the Australian Government has an obligation to prosecute the people responsible for Aboriginal deaths in custody.
David Dungay Jr’s death wasn’t a one off.
Aboriginal people are still dying in Australia’s prisons and hospitals.
As Leetona Dungay says:
“Aboriginal people are still dying in Australian prisons and hospitals, and there is no accountability. By taking my complaint about David’s death to the United Nations, I want to shine an international spotlight on systemic discrimination in Australia’s prisons and healthcare systems. I want justice for David’s death, and for all Aboriginal families who have lost loved ones to racism and discrimination in Australia’s prisons and health system.”
Leetona’s work is more urgent than ever. More than 500 Aboriginal people have died in custody since the Australian Government’s 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody, with less than a handful of prosecutions.
On 29 December 2023, the eighth anniversary of David’s death, Leetona Dungay led a rally outside Long Bay Correctional Complex, supported by the National Justice Project, calling for justice for David.
You can watch TV coverage of the rally from SBS news here.