I think of all the times we have had to grieve without justice for the loss of so many of our people.

The deaths in custody mount up, and no consequences are forthcoming.

I’m sharing with you just a few of these deaths that come to mind:

Aboriginal woman aged 22

In 2014 a young Yamatji woman in a lock up in South Hedland with broken ribs, and her desperate cries for help left unanswered.

My cousin’s daughter died in a cell without any comfort or care.

Who is to blame, who was disciplined, what consequences for the lack of care that led to my niece’s needless death?

Why was she even locked up as a victim of domestic violence calling for help?

Even if she had been affected by an addiction, which she wasn’t, then she was still human being and in need of medical intervention.

Where was the humanity? we need a truce now.

Aboriginal woman aged 21

In 1997 this young Aboriginal woman disappeared and was never see again.

The man accused of brutally murdering her was interviewed and no further action taken, even though fellow crew told the horror story of what they heard.

When she went missing her family reported it straight away, the police said she was probably off galivanting or partying, implying that this was something she would do regularly, because she was Aboriginal.

But her going missing was so out of character that her parents were instantly concerned.

Everyone seems to remember the names Rimmer, Spiers and Glennon, yet the same time in the Kimberley, the small town of Broome was rocked with the disappearance of this well known and loved 21-year-old.

The blasé behavior of the police and the dismissive behavior towards her family was devastating for everyone whom knew the girl and her family.

Aboriginal man aged 20

I remember a smiling happy young boy who would visit my office in Derby, his parents caring and attentive to him.

He would come to the office and talk to us, and go home to his parents who lived at Karmulinunga across the road from our office.

His father was the chairman of the Kimberley Land Council and a respected Elder who cared for his son.

I was shocked beyond belief when I heard Sampi boy was bludgeoned to death outside the Continental Hotel in Broome.

He was a young boy, who was mildly intellectually disabled, always well dressed, happy, friendly and respectful.

The murderers got off, one acquitted, and the other convicted of a lesser charge for cutting this boy’s throat. A jury of their peers found them not guilty of murder.

Aboriginal woman aged 29

A young woman just released from prison in Geraldton is in need of phycological assistance, the family call the police for help, they were concerned for the state of her mental health.

This is a tiny little petite woman standing with a knife and visibly distressed.

She is shot dead by police at the scene.

The officer is charged, and acquitted by a jury of peers.

The reason: the officer was acting in accordance with standing orders and his training.

Please give us justice, dignity, respect and recognize our humanity.  We need a truce now!

Aboriginal man aged 45

In the mid-1980’s in Derby an Aboriginal man and his wife wait in the hospital emergency department, he has had a stroke, and she is desperate to help him.

The medical staff assume he is drunk – he is not drunk, he is dying in his wife’s arms.

The loss of this father, husband, brother, son is inexcusable, they could have saved him, but after an hour waiting for help, he perished in his wife’s arms.

Aboriginal man aged 70

Aboriginal woman aged 26

A proud Yamatji Elder was imprisoned and charged for trying to stop the arrest of his 26-year-old daughter who had just been beaten by her partner.

As with most people in a critical situation, you would call the police to assist and intervene on the part of the victim.

In Broome this was not the case; the offender took off and left the victim. The police arrived and arrested the victim.

Her father tried to stop them, he was arrested and they were both charged, taken from the scene, and the baby boy left unattended.

The offender returns and kidnaps the 10-month-old child.

The police seemed to find it more important to process paper work for the successful arrest, than to get the mother to the emergency department or investigate the whereabouts of the child.

They eventually found the child two days later dropped in a rubbish bin.

When our precious little Cloe went missing in Carnarvon we all searched, we all showed our support to the family and never gave up.

If only the same actions had been carried out in a search for this innocent baby boy, on the night of his abduction.

There is only one road in and out of Broome and only two ways to turn.

Any action could have saved this baby from the torture and agony inflicted on him by his murderer.

As another twist of fate, the murderer died in custody, after being convicted of the horrific acts perpetrated against this little baby.

All of those lives affected because the Police did not treat this family with the dignity and respect they deserved to get justice and a fair go on the night of these horrific events.

Justice and truce before Treaty.

Aboriginal woman aged 22

Disappeared from Broome in 1999, 18 years later there was an inquest which left an open finding she had probably met with foul play.

so after all this time, we still do not have any idea about what happened to this woman.

Ms Albert had no respect from the initial reporting of her as a missing person, until the Coroner’s inquest into her disappearance in 2017.

With a truce our women would be treated with dignity and respect that all citizens should be afforded, instead of the old, “she’s probably off partying, or having a good time”.

This doesn’t sound to me like a disappearance based on going off for a good time, what a disgrace.

Aboriginal man aged 47

His senseless death was another example of the inhumanity of those who do not see us as worthy of dignity or respect.

He was being transported to Kalgoorlie but died in custody due to a complete disregard for his humanity.

When I heard the horror of this respected Elder’s death I wept, and couldn’t reconcile nor understand how this could happen.

How they could ignore the agony of their dying passenger in the rear of the van, who was being slowly cooked.

I still to this day cannot understand why no one has been held responsible nor that there has been no discipline metered out to those responsible for this senseless death.

For a simple traffic offence, which would result in a fine, he was in effect metered out a death sentence.

I say stop the death penalty being imposed by cruel neglect, and bias.

Let’s get real need a truce before treaty, and a sincere apology with evidence of regret in the very first instance would be a place to begin, as well as some action to have the truth telling to we need to right the wrongs.

  • Carol Martin is a Yamatji woman and was State Labor Member for the Kimberley from 2001 to 2013. She was the first Indigenous woman elected to any parliament in Australia.