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A 30-Year-Old Indigenous Woman Has Died In Custody In Victoria

There have been 82 Aboriginal deaths in custody since last year.

Deaths In Custody

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A young Indigenous woman has died in custody this week after being treated in a Melbourne hospital. Corrections Victoria announced via statement the 30-year-old passed on Monday at the Sunshine Hospital, where she’d been transferred from the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

Content Warning: This article contains discussion of Indigenous deaths in custody.

“The death of any person in custody is a heartbreaking tragedy and the team at Corrections Victoria sends its deepest condolences to the woman’s family,” they said, stating she was surrounded by her loved ones at the time.

The women at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre are being supported, and preparations are currently underway for a smoking ceremony in her memory.

“No one should have to deal with his trauma,” said acting CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service George Selvanera to the ABC. “On behalf of the family, we ask everyone to give them space to grieve this loss.”

“In time, there will be appropriate processes to examine what happened and the family will look for answers then.”

The tragic news comes as the Australian Institute of Criminology released its annual deaths in custody report on Thursday, officially recording 82 Indigenous deaths across prison and police custody since last year.

In November alone, 43-year-old Glen Francis died in a Queensland correctional centre, a 26-year-old Aboriginal man died in a Newcastle prison, and 45-year-old Gomeroi man Stanley Russell was shot by NSW police in his own Sydney home, according to NITV.

Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri, and Yorta Yorta woman Veronica Nelson also died in Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in January last year. The coroner heard last July that she had called for medical assistance more than 10 times in the hours leading to her death.

Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody three decades ago, there have been a tragic 489 Indigenous deaths in custody. “Every death in custody is an unspeakable tragedy for that person’s loved ones,” Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record shared on Thursday. “The failures of governments to prevent hundreds of Black deaths in custody over the last three decades is a disgrace.”