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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vindication - but will there be Justice

Miss Eagle received news this afternoon of the result of the Coroner's findings on the death of Mulrunji (otherwise known as Cameron Doomadgee). The Coroner found that an individual policeman kicked Mulrunji and so contributed to his death. Miss Eagle hesitates to call the Coroner's finding justice: vindication, yes; justice, yet to be seen.

Mulrunji has been vindicated. Will justice follow?
One of the great sadnesses in this whole sorry saga is the death of Mulrunji's son.
Dear Reader, why does this not surprise Miss Eagle? If the Commissioner has the same attitude, the future will remain as bleak as it ever has been when Aboriginal people come in contact with whitefella's law and the Queensland Police will have lost an opportunity to move forward.


The Coroner has made a number of recommendations in her report and Miss Eagle publishes them.
Miss Eagle is a Queenslander. She has lived in the Northern Territory and in Walgett in north-western New South Wales. All these places have significant Aboriginal communities. Miss Eagle cannot say forcefully enough that the attitudes of the Queensland Government on Aboriginal issues and policies is still rooted in the early 20th century. There is no difference whether the Government is Labor, National Party or Liberal. Queensland refuses to implement policies which work elsewhere.


One of the Coroner's recommendations is for the establishment on Palm Island of a community patrol. Miss Eagle lived for a number of years in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The Aboriginal community of Tennant Creek established many, many years ago the first Night Patrol in this country. The Night Patrol picks up non-violent Aboriginal people under the influence of alcohol. These people are either taken to their homes or to the alcohol and drug abuse centre. Violent people are left for the police to put in the watchhouse. Such a detox centre is also a recommendation of the Coroner. See what Miss Eagle means? Hardly rocket science. Aboriginal people themselves control these systems in the interests of their own communities - but in Queensland........


And as for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody? Well, if you live in Queensland, the attitude would be: why bother.


~~~~~~~~~~



INVESTIGATION OF MULRUNJI’S DEATH


ARREST AND POLICING

1. The arrest of Mulrunji was not an appropriate exercise of police discretion. There were a range of alternatives to arrest available that should have been preferred. These include giving a caution, issuing a direction or commencing proceedings by way of notice to appear or summons.

2. The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (PPR Act) should be amended to
reflect the principle of arrest as a last resort. This might be achieved by amending s 198
to provide that a police officer may only arrest an adult without warrant where the
officer reasonably suspects that he or she has committed an offence and where they
reasonably believe that no other action, in all the circumstances, is appropriate given
the matters set out in s 198.

3. The PPR Act should be amended to include an explicit statutory duty to consider and
utilise alternatives to the detention of intoxicated persons in police cells.

4. The Operational Procedures Manual (OPM) should be amended to instruct officers to
consider arrest as a last resort and consider all alternatives before arresting a person,
particularly in cases of minor offences.

5. The OPM should be amended to reinforce the need to consider and utilise alternatives
to the detention of intoxicated persons in police cells.

6. The inappropriate arrest of Mulrunji reflects a lack of awareness of the legal bases upon which a person may be arrested without a warrant. The Police Commissioner should
consider whether this reflects upon police training generally or a need for further training of Senior Sergeant Hurley or other officers who gave evidence at this inquest.

7. The decision to arrest Mulrunji also reflects a lack of awareness of the alternatives to
arrest and confusion about their availability in the case of intoxicated persons. The
Police Commissioner should consider whether this reflects upon police training 27. The involvement in the investigation of Mulrunji’s death of officers from Townsville and Palm Island was inappropriate and undermined the integrity of the investigation.

8. The decision to arrest Mulrunji and the evidence of Senior Sergeant Hurley discloses a
lack of awareness of, and a failure to take into account, the recommendations of the
RCIADIC relating to the arrest of Aboriginal people for drunkenness and public order
offences. The Police Commissioner should consider whether this reflects upon police
training generally or a need for further training of Senior Sergeant Hurley and the other
officers who gave evidence at this inquest.

9. The Police Commission should give particular attention to the training of officers
working in Aboriginal communities. Such training should be provided prior to any
service in Aboriginal communities and should deal specifically with the
recommendations of the RCIADIC and how these are relevant to policing and the
exercise of discretion to arrest. Training should include ‘experiential training’ based on
the Kowanyama trial, as identified in the Cape York Justice Study.

10. Immediate attention should be given by the Queensland Government to the proper
funding and support of the Community Justice Group on Palm Island.

DIVERSIONARY CENTRES AND COMMUNITY PATROLS

11. Urgent attention should be given by the Queensland Government to the establishment of a diversionary centre on Palm Island to provide an alternative to police custody for people who come to the attention of police while intoxicated.

12. Such a centre should be established following consultation with the Palm Island
community and its design and operation must be responsive to local conditions and
needs.

13. The establishment of a diversionary centre should be accompanied by the development of a protocol with the Queensland Police Service, in conjunction with the Palm Island community, as to its use as an alternative to detention.

14. The establishment of a diversionary centre should also be accompanied by training of
police officers working on Palm Island as to the use of the centre as an alternative to
detention.

15. Urgent attention should be given by the Queensland Government to the establishment of a community patrol on Palm Island.

16. The structure and functions of such a community patrol should be developed following consultation with the Palm Island community.

17. It is vital that any community patrol that is implemented on Palm Island is adequately supported and funded to ensure its success.

ASSESSMENT AND MONITORING OF HEALTH

18. There was no assessment of Mulrunji’s health upon being received into police custody at the Palm Island Watchhouse. There was no adequate reason for this failure.

19. The OPM should be amended to fortify the direction given to police in relation to the
conduct of a thorough initial health assessment of any person brought into police
custody. In particular, the OPM should note that where a person taken into custody is
unable initially to be properly assessed because they are violent, aggressive or non-
cooperative, consideration must be given to conducting an assessment by another
means (such as through the cell door) or having another officer conduct the assessment.
In the event that an assessment still cannot be conducted, further attempts must be made
at the earliest available opportunity.

20. The OPM should be urgently reviewed with a view to providing a much greater level of practical guidance to officers on how to conduct health assessments and checks of
persons in their custody.

21. Pending such review, the OPM should be immediately amended to incorporate the
Medical Checklist currently used by Victorian Police. Queensland police should receive
training in the use of that checklist and commence using it immediately.

22. The failure to properly assess Mulrunji’s health suggests a lack of appropriate training for officers in the conduct of health assessments of people in custody. The Police
Commissioner should urgently consider increased and improved training of police
officers in relation to health assessments, particularly for officers in charge of watchhouses who should receive more intensive and specialised training.

23. The content and scope of such training should take into account the RCIADIC
recommendations, in particular:

• Such training should include information as to the general health status of the
Aboriginal population, the dangers and misconceptions associated with
intoxication, the dangers associated with detaining unconscious or semi-rousable
persons and the specific action to be taken by officers in relation to those matters;
and

• In designing and delivering such training programs, custodial authorities should
seek the advice and assistance of Aboriginal Health Services and Aboriginal Legal
Services.

SUPERVISION, MONITORING AND CARE IN CUSTODY

24. The Police Commissioner should consider the need for greater training in relation to
monitoring equipment of officers who are in positions that may require them to have
responsibility for people held in custody,

25. Theoretical and practical training in first aid and resuscitation should be mandatory for all officers who are in charge of a police watchhouse. Wathchhouses should be
resourced with appropriate equipment to enable first aid and resuscitation to be
provided whilst maintaining proper workplace health and safety standards and
protection for police officers.

26. People in custody should not be left unmonitored under any circumstances. The Police Commissioner should conduct an urgent review to ensure that this practice is not
undertaken elsewhere in Queensland and that staffing levels are adequate to ensure that
persons kept in custody are never left unmonitored.


INVESTIGATION OF MULRUNJI’S DEATH

27. The involvement in the investigation of Mulrunji’s death of officers from Townsville
and Palm Island was inappropriate and undermined the integrity of the investigation.

28. In all deaths in custody, officers investigating the death should be selected from a
region other than that in which the death occurred. The OPM should be amended to
require this.

29. The OPM should be amended to require the appointment of the officer in charge of.

30. The OPM should be amended to make explicit the need to consider, when selecting
officers for involvement in an investigation of a death in custody, the impartiality and
the appearance of impartiality in the conduct of the investigation.

31. The involvement in the investigation of Mulrunji’s death of officers who knew Senior Sergeant Hurley personally, or were friends with him, was inappropriate and
compromised the integrity of the investigation.

32. The OPM should be amended to explicitly require officers involved in an investigation into a death in custody to disclose any relationship with an officer involved in, or a witness to, that death.

33. The investigation’s appearance of impartiality was further undermined by the following conduct:-

• It was inappropriate for Hurley to meet the investigating officers at the airport upon
their arrival;

• It was inappropriate for Hurley to drive the investigators to the scene of Mulrunji’s
arrest; and

• It was completely unacceptable for investigators to eat dinner at Hurley’s house
while the investigation was being conducted.

34. The OPM should be amended to more clearly state the need for officers involved in an investigation to consider the impartiality and the perception of impartiality in the
conduct of the investigation at all times.

35. The discussion by Senior Sergeant Hurley of the death of Mulrunji with Sergeant Leafe and Police Liaison Officer Bengaroo prior to being interviewed was inappropriate and contrary to the OPM. It had the potential to undermine the integrity of the investigation and undermine the appearance of integrity of the investigation.

36. The OPM should be amended to require the officer in charge of an investigation of a
death in custody to instruct officers involved in, or witness to, the death not to discuss
the matter with other witnesses prior to being interviewed.

37. Consideration should be given by the Police Commissioner to the training officers
receive to ensure they are aware of their obligations under the OPM if involved in
deaths in custody. In particular the Commissioner should ensure that officers strictly
comply with section 16.24 (vi) to (viii) of the OPM and immediately arrange for the
next of kin to be notified where a death in custody occurs.

38. The CMC should be actively involved in all investigations into deaths in custody from the outset. Consideration should be given to having a senior officer of the CMC
involved in all investigations into deaths in custody.

39. Difficulties in cross-cultural communication between police and Aboriginal witnesses may have impaired the effectiveness of the investigation of this matter by police. Significant attention should be given by the Police Commissioner to the training of officers, particularly those who are working in or near large Indigenous communities
such as Palm Island in relation to communication with Indigenous people and the use of
support persons and interpreters. This is a matter that is fundamental to the effective
and fair administration of justice in Queensland.

40. The OPM should be amended to include, as an appendix, Chapter 9 of the Supreme
Court of Queensland Equal Treatment Benchbook on ‘Indigenous Language and
Communication’. The OPM should direct officers to follow and apply the contents of
that chapter to the greatest extent possible.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Get ready, get set.............

Winners are Grinners
Matt King being interviewed after the game
Happiness is......
Matt Geyer with Joey (Andrew Johns)

....for the Grand Final to end all Grand Finals. Miss Eagle is over the moon.

Her teams meet in Sydney in the NRL Grand Final next weekend:
Brisbane v Melbourne - The Broncos meet The Storm.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What is Desert Spirituality?


You may, dear Reader, be wondering what is Desert Spirituality.

Here is a very good description.

In the Australian context, the desert experience is based, firstly, on the experience of Jesus in the desert and his continuing withdrawal to quiet places. This continues with the early Christian experience of the desert fathers and mothers who withdrew to the desert. We have their writings and the writings of those who came after.

Secondly, Desert Spirituality in the 20th and 21st centuries has an eco-theology. Paul, in his letter to the Romans (1.20) says: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead. Desert Spirituality seeks to know the Creator through Creation. A third and vital part of Australian Desert Spirituality is an indigenization of faith through an understanding of the landscape of Australia and an understanding of its people whether they are of the First Nations or are of settler status. So often, the Christian tradition in Australia is a transplanted faith and Australians looks to the USA, Europe or the United Kingdom for their faith and whatever is the latest religious experience. This has grave consequences for our stewardship of this nation and our relationship with one another.

Desert Spirituality is a life and a journey taking us to a more basic and elemental way of living our lives, desert-ing consumerism; desert-ing ambition; desert-ing self-centredness. The Desert has much to teach us and, when we physically leave the Desert, we can carry the experience with us in our hearts, our spirits, our lives.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Interested in Desert Spirituality

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Ian Robinson at The Living Desert, Broken Hill


Miss Eagle publishes below a letter from her good friend, the Rev Ian Robinson. Ian is a Uniting Church Minister based in Perth, West Australia. Miss Eagle is a friend of both Ian Robinson and Michael Kelly. She first met Ian and Michael at Shared Meanings, a retreat attended by 135 people at the Australian National University in December 2000. They have remained in touch ever since.

As will be noted from the two posts below, Miss Eagle has just returned from an inspiring desert journey/retreat led by Ian at The Nine Mile just out of Broken Hill next door to The Living Desert. It will be a major milestone in Miss Eagle's life.

Miss Eagle commends their request to you.

TO ALL THOSE INTERESTED IN DESERT SPIRITUALITY
Both Fr Michael Kelly
(Benedictine, Arcadia, NSW)
and Rev Ian Robinson
(Spirit Journeys,
and Australian Research Institite in Desert Spirituality (ARIDS))
invite you to offer your details into a network on Christian Desert Spirituality.

We feel that this interest is a God-blown wind of the spirit at this time.
Initiailly, we are wondering just who is doing what, since we are both aware
of some others in addition to ourselves, but the desert is a big place and…


We need to plead with you to pass this around as widely as possible
to your networks for return to Ian Robinson by the end of September.
Ian will compile the information so send it to idtr@westnet.com.au
with the following information in the following four categories (you may fit more than one).

A. Name and contact details.
B. Brief description of interest /activity.(100 words max.)
C. Category/categories of your interest/activity?
1. Those who are doing desert retreat journeys from towns .
2. Those who are following the Desert Fathers and Mothers in non-desert settings
3. Those who are resident in a retreat centre in the desert itself .
4. Those who are doing relevant research or resource-writing.
D. I would like to receive news on Desert Spirituality happenings.
E. I am willing to be listed on a web page.

What will happen to the information?
Firstly, knowing what is available could be useful to seekers in this area.
For those who are willing, we can post it on a web page. (see E above)

Secondly, it may also be useful for passing on relevant news, courses, conferences on Desert Spirituality.
This list will not be passed to anyone else for any other purposes.
If you wish to receive no such news,
please still let us know what you are doing and add the note at the bottom
that you wish to receive no further communication. (see D above)

If you know of something happening
but you don’t know their contact details and can not forward this email to them,
please let us know whatever you can about them and Ian will try to chase them up.

Thanks
Ian D.T. Robinson
idtr@westnet.com.au
AND
Fr Michael Kelly
(who is heading off on annual retreat)

Miss Eagle is back

Homestead at The Nine Mile, Broken Hill

Miss Eagle is back - but busy. But to get back into blogging, this is a quick post. The destination was The Nine Mile. The Nine Mile is a sheep station - sheep ranch to those in the USA - just out of Broken Hill and right next door to The Living Desert. It is the property of Greg and Mia. The trip was organized by Spirit Journeys Australia and our leaders were Ian Robinson and Ross Neville.

Below is The Shearers' Quarters where we stayed - a group of nine of us - and looked after ourselves. For details about the journey more details will be posted at The Trad Pad.

The Shearers' Quarters at The Nine Mile, Broken Hill