The Indigenous Social Justice Association is calling for an independent investigation into the death of a First Nations man who died in custody in New South Wales.

Father of five, Eric Whittaker from Walgett died as a result of a brain haemorrhage and ended up on life support in Westmead Hospital earlier this month.

His life support was later turned off and his family are demanding answers regarding the circumstances of his death which remain unclear.

Conflicting reports have been given by Corrective Services and police. Corrective Services told the family he had fallen in the yard of the prison, while police say he fell in the office.

Mr Whittaker was taken to Parklea Prison 12 days ago for allegedly breaching parole conditions.

Ken Canning from ISJA says it looks like a cover-up.


Family members today marched outside of the NSW State Parliament as a protest against Indigenous deaths in custody.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge says the family “deserve prompt answers” about why the man was in custody in the first place.

“The fact that his family was not contacted until after he was unconscious in hospital is particularly troubling. The family are quite rightly distressed to find this young man was still in prison chains despite being near death and on life support in hospital.”

The death comes following a recent release from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which showed more Aboriginal people are facing courts and a greater percentage of those facing court are receiving a custodial sentence.

“This style of institutional brutality and indifference to Aboriginal lives must end,” said Shoebridge.