Category Archives: Palm Island

It is still O.K. for Australian police to kill Aborigines

The 2004 Palm Island death in custody, where an Aboriginal man was unlawfully arrested and died of massive internal injuries inflicted while in police custody, remains unresolved. The arresting officer and the person who delivered the fatal blow was aquitted on charges of manslaughter but the deceased’s family is still pursuing civil charges and compensation for the death.

The charges against the police officer were not laid by the Queensland Director of Public prosecutions as a result of the coroners inquest into the death, which put responsibility for the death with the police officer. The charges were only laid after a huge public outcry for justice.

However, it is not just Queensland’s criminal (in)justice system that tolerates the killing of Aborigines by police.

In the Northern Territory  

“Policeman who shot Wadeye teen won’t face charges”
N.I.T. Tuesday, 4 December 2007

“Constable Robert Whittington was “in a blind panic” when he “made a fatal error of judgment” and killed Robert Jongmin on October 23, 2002, Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh said yesterday.”

“Senior Const Whittington was originally charged with committing a dangerous act, but the charge was dismissed last year because the prosecution had not been brought within the required two-month period for police.”

In Western Australia

“Coroner clears police of death in custody”  West Australia 28th November 2007  (cultural caution! This article contains a photo of the deceased)

In this case a man died of a heart attack while being arrested. The police claim they did not assault him

Dead prisoner ‘bruised all over’ West Australian 18th October 2007

“An autopsy on the body of Carl Woods, who died minutes after being arrested, showed that he had bruises and abrasions all over his body, from head to toe.

And some linear bruises detected on the small of Mr Woods’ back and on the back of his legs were consistent with blows from a police baton or torch, forensic pathologist Gerard Cadden told a Coroner’s Court inquest yesterday.”

“But evidence has been given by all four of the officers who took several minutes to overpower and handcuff 35-year-old Mr Woods inside a house in Parmelia in April last year that no one used a baton or torch during the struggle. Two police torches were found in the house after the arrest.”

“Dr Cadden then went through a detailed report on the injuries he found on Mr Woods’ body.

He had lacerations to his lips, two lower front teeth — with jaw bone still attached — had been knocked out and a third tooth was also missing. An upper tooth had been jammed into his upper jaw and three other teeth were fractured. Dr Cadden said he understood Mr Woods had been kneed in the face, adding: “It would take considerable force to bring about that degree of dental damage.”


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A Benefit Gig for the Doomadgee Family of Palm Island – Aug 11

The Arena, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane August 11   8p.m.

Featuring Kev Carmody and The Beasts of Bourbon


also…..  *the Palm Island Dancers  *Banawurun  *Indigenous Intrudaz  *Lola the Vamp   *Dick Desert & The Shotgun Country Club

* Alex Doomadgee will MC proceedings.

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The Palm Island Community Store – self determination and economic development or more government bullshit?


Palm Island background from

Palm Island background from Senator Andrew Bartlett

 The Palm Island store is currently owned by the Queensland Government.  It charges inflated prices to subsidise the transport of goods to other Aboriginal communities in Queensland.    The government has recently announced that the store is to be privatised, and there are two competitors for the tender.  One is  the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) and the other is a gaggle of bureacrats and mainly non-Palm Islanders supported by the state government.

Please sign the open letter to the Qld. government in the following link to show your support for the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation’s bid to manage the Palm Island store.

Please  distribute the link through your networks.

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First Post from Palm Island

I am writing this post from the contraversial Palm Island Police and citizens Youth Centre (P.C.Y.C), the only community access internet on the Island.  It was not until the PCYC was built that broadband internet came to Palm Island. 

I still have a number of technical hurdles to overcome, I still cant get photos up on the posts, but that should change before too long.

Over the last week my partner, Theresa  and I have had several meetings in Mt. Isa (Theresa’s traditional country – Kalkadoon) and here discussing sustainable housing options as well as a range of other issues including substance abuse, employment and mental health issues.  The good side of these discussions has been an affirmation that our ideas are very relevent and welcome in Mt. Isa and Palm Island but the downside is that there still seems to be no apparent strategy to manifest these ideas.  We had hoped to begin a housing resource centre early this year but it does not seem like that will occur for a range of issues which I shall not whinge to you about at this stage but may well do in the future.  But the plan is still solid and perhaps later in the year we can begin. 

I will write a series of posts in the near future about these issues to thrash them out a bit more, but in the meantime please check out the following link to see what we are on about.

A recurring theme in discussions here and in Mt. Isa has been the questions of hope and hopelessness.  Whether it be alternative housing strategies or healing strategies for alcoholism, family violence and mental ill health, I continue to ask myself – Without hope, can any of these strategies work?  An obvious answer that smacks me in the face every time I consider it is – of course it won’t!   But then the question arises, what can bring hope? and I wonder if any of these strategies can bring hope.  So I perceive a catch 22 situation where change will not occur without hope and hope will not occur with out change. 

 There is still a deep despair amongst many Aboriginal people, especially here on Palm Island.  Suicides continue and many people still try to escape the pain of life through substance abuse of one form or another.  People are trying to survive from day to day and make the most of the hand that has been dealt them, they have little capacity for political or social action to bring about change.  For all its flaws the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) provided a forum and overview to discuss possibilities for change and as such provided a glimmer of hope.  Now that it has been disbanded there appears to be no capacity for Indigenous people to articulate or explore new policy agendas and have no choice but to succumb to the blow-in-the-wind policies of ignorant white bureacracies of the federal and state governments and their programs.

Anyway, more about all of this in future posts.  As mentioned previously, the former Mayor of Palm Island, Erykah Kyle, has agreed to write for Paradigm Oz occaisionally.  I met with Erykah yesterday and recorded an interview with her about some of her reflections on the situation here.  I will transcribe it soon and present it in a number of sections (It was a long interview). 

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Palm Island charges update

The following is a message distributed by ANTAR Qld.

for more info 

Dear friends,

After the announcement of the pathology reports on the death of Mulrunji, there were protests from the Islanders and the police station burned down.  A large police force was sent to the island and many many people were arrested and given very harsh bail conditions.Five men, accused, I believe, of being the ringleaders of the protests, are being tried in Brisbane, starting on Monday 5th March.Many of you will have heard one of them, Lex Wotton, talking at the Rally in Brisbane on 26th January and also at the Towards Indigenous Self Determination Workshop on 27 January.I think that some of the families of the accused men will also come to Brisbane to support them. I believe that it is helpful to the men and their families to feel support from the wider community so, if some people can come to the Court and be there, in the public gallery, it would be great.

The best information I have is: It will probably be court 7 in the District Court Complex (on George St), beginning at either 9:30am or 10:00am. But we can’t confirm that until Friday afternoon. I have been told that T-shirts with strong messages are probably not very helpful .. 

The trial is likely to last for several weeks, so no worries if you cannot get in on the first day – it is really good to have ongoing support.

Also, I believe that the men may be having financial problems, especially those who have had to take leave from their paid employment, to be at court. I hope to know more about this, and whether their accommodation is being paid and they get a living allowance from ????  next week. So when we do know more we will let you know.

It could also be very helpful to keep a watch on the medial reporting of the trials – if you think that the reporting is biased or distorted, do let them know. 

(end of ANTAR message)

also from ABC Online

Two more men have been sentenced for their part in the 2004 Palm Island riots in north Queensland.]

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Death in custody update

From “The Australian”

“THE former judge chosen by the Beattie Government to review a decision by the state’s top prosecutor not to lay charges in the Palm Island death-in-custody case has become embroiled in a conflict-of-interest dispute after it emerged he voted to appoint Leanne Clare as Director of Public Prosecutions.”

Full story – Ex-judge in Palm death case review helped pick DPP

This lack of transparency accountability and independence is not limited to this particular case
The earlier Paradigm Oz post “Give the Man a Life” is another example of the perpetrator investigating itself with no independent checks and balances

The Queensland Coroner’s court is another example of lack of accountability – no matter what it’s findings on any matter there is no obligation on the state the courts or private companies to pay any heed whatsoever to the findings

And then there is the tired old issue of an upper house in Parliament – Queensland is the only state in Australia that does not have a house of review

From the lowliest bureacrat to the Qld cabinet there are no checks and balances to contain government bias or corruption or negligence and we citizens have no right to challenge what happens

The scandal around the Bundaberg hospital only saw the light of day when hospital staff gave up sending their concerns “up the right channels” and politicised the issues beyond these official chanells

In Queensland – justice is something that must be forced by extra-parliamentary and extra-bureacracy political action
Natural justice has nothing to do with the Qld Government’s “due process”

No Queenslander can assume justice or human rights is a given of citizenship

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Andrew Bartlett’s report of his visit to Palm Island

Link here to Andrew Bartlett’s blog
There must be justice before there can be reconciliation

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