Mr Inman's family want to ensure deaths like his don't happen again. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this story contains images and names of people who have passed away.
Jacinta Miller says she phoned Acacia Prison to speak to an Indigenous liaison officer about her brother Stanley Inman Jr’s mental health days before he took his own life.
On July 11, 2020, the 19-year-old Noongar and Wirlomin man was found in a critical condition in a prison storeroom.
He died in hospital two days later.
The coronial inquiry into Mr Inman’s death begins in Perth on Tuesday.
“We, as a family, have stood alongside those other families also affected by this great epidemic and injustice against Indigenous men, women, youth, and children of this country. We simply just don’t understand how to others he has just become a statistic,” his family said in a statement.
National Justice Project chief executive George Newhouse is representing the family at the inquest.
“They want accountability and they want the truth to come out,” Mr Newhouse told AAP.
“They want to make sure these deaths don’t happen again. We have seen a spate of suicides in WA prisons.
“It troubles the family and us that the government isn’t seeing the systemic problem, they’re looking at each case separately.”
Privately-operated Acacia Prison is run by Serco.
Mr Newhouse said the state had a duty of care to provide adequate health services to inmates in all correctional facilities and called on the West Australian Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston to address the shortfall.
“Again, it’s a systemic problem, there’s virtually no mental health care provided to prisons, or youth detention centres – and they desperately need it,” Mr Newhouse said.
“How many more suicides will it take before the WA government acts?
“We need Aboriginal Medical Services available in prisons to provide the culturally safe care that WA Prisons are incapable of delivering.
“Instead of delivering adequate support to incarcerated people, the minister has delivered a human rights emergency in WA prisons.”
The National Justice Project will be seeking answers about Mr Inman’s mental health treatment and his access to cultural and peer support.
They will also be asking whether there were appropriate and culturally safe mechanisms for his family to convey their concerns, and whether Acacia Prison did enough to reduce access to ligature points.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 40 per cent of prisoners in WA, while they make up only four per cent of the population.
Mr Newhouse said the justice project is calling for Aboriginal Medical Services to be available in all WA prisons, a mechanism to allow families to notify prisons of health-related warnings, complaints or requests for support, and improved cultural safety and sensitivity towards Indigenous people in prisons.
“The legal system can be incredibly intimidating and what the family are expecting in terms of justice is often not one of the outcomes in this coronial process,” he said.
“For years First Nations people have been calling for an independent inquiry led by First Nations people into deaths in custody.
“They’ve lost their loved one and the process is often re-traumatising – not therapeutic.”
The National Justice Project is also representing the family of Jomen Blanket – a 30-year-old Noongar and Torres Strait Islander man who was found dead in his cell at Acacia Prison in June 2019 – in a separate coronial inquiry that began last year.
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