Deathscapes

Ms Dhu 2b - A Young Yamatji woman

Deathscapes

A Young, Yamatji Woman

[imagecaption] Della Rae and Kobi Arthur Morrison perform ‘Forever Young’ outside Perth Magistrates Court on the 2nd anniversary of Ms Dhu’s death, Whadjuk Country, 2016. Video: Michelle Bui. [/imagecaption]

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Ms Dhu was of the Yamatji Nanda Nation family group on her mother’s side, and the Banjima family group on her father’s side. She was born in Port Hedland though she spent much of her childhood in Geraldton with her Nana Carol Roe. Her family describe her as ‘happy-go-lucky’ and ‘always with a smile on her face’. They remember her as caring, full of love and cheer, with a fierce sense of loyalty to friends and family.

Ms Dhu was only 22 years old when she was taken into police custody. When police responded to a report that Ms Dhu was being abused by her partner, they unearthed a number of her outstanding fines. This twist in events, casting her as an offender against the law, rather than a young woman in need of protection from family violence, led to her own arrest and shocking death less than two days later.

Ms Dhu’s status as a young Aboriginal woman meant that she was at the centre of a lethal intersection of gender, racial and economic violence: her experiences of interpersonal masculinist violence at the hands of an abusive partner,  her inability to pay minor fines that led to her incarceration and the racist violence she was subjected to by police and medical institutions both preceding and following her arrest–all contributed to her untimely death.

During her final 48 hours of life, Ms Dhu tried to convince police and medical officers that she was seriously ill but she was discredited, disbelieved and subjected to further physical injury. They repeatedly refused to provide her with due care, respect and the necessities for life.


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