Prevent deaths in custody caused by improper restraint.

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Justice Action is a community-based organisation of criminal justice and mental-health activists targeting the abuse of authority.

The events in the United States and the death of George Floyd, highlight the endemic issue of deaths in custody as a result of improper restraint. This issue is not confined to the United States. In Australia, this issue disproportionately affects Indigenous people: on average, an Aboriginal Australian dies in custody every month. Since 1991, 432 Aboriginal people have died in custody.

In 2015, David Dungay died as a result of the officer’s use of restraint whilst in custody in the mental health facility at Long Bay Hospital. Similarly to George Floyd, his final words were “I can’t breathe”. Since David’s passing, we have been working closely with the Dungay family, to prevent further deaths in custody by the use of such restraint.

The position in which David Dungay was being held down is called the ‘prone position’. It is a restraining technique that was identified as fatally dangerous following the 2009 death of Robert Plasto-Lehner in the Northern Territory. Yet still that same technique was used on David Dungay six years later.

Similar deaths due to this form of restraint have occurred across Australia. We refer to the deaths of Carl Antony Grillo (Queensland 2011), Bradley Karl Coolwell (Queensland 2017) and Pasquale Giorgio (Queensland 2018) amongst many more.

If the recommendations from the original coronial inquest following Robert Plato-Lehner’s death in 2009 had been distributed across all jurisdictions, these deaths would have been prevented.

Justice Action has been working to gain support for an efficient national database where coronial recommendations from all jurisdictions can be accessed by the public and all authorities in Australia with coercive power.

Our work will enable necessary safeguards and prevent further deaths in custody resulting from the use of restraint. View the proposal here:

We are continuing to consult with bodies of oversight and relevant authorities with the power to use restraint.

As a demonstration of public support for systemic change to prevent deaths in custody, please sign this petition. 

If you would like to contribute to the work of Justice Action in advocating for individuals and families such as the Dungays, please read more and donate at: 

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