Indigenous (In)Justice: Confronting Deaths in Custody HEAD ON PHOTO FESTIVAL

by Pauline Clague

This year’s prestigious internationally acclaimed Head On Photo festival was from May 3 – 19th  in Sydney

Indigenous (In)Justice: Confronting Deaths in Custody was a project curated by Liz Deep-Jones and Head On Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, supported by the Culutural Resilience Hub at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS.

The installation was made up of two parts. A shipping container next to the Queen Victoria Statute opposite Town Hall that featured a confronting image of David Dungay called “I can’t breathe” taken from the CCTV filmed during his Death in Custody in 2015. The other side of the container will feature a photograph from 1906 named “Prisoner” which shows 10 Aboriginal prisoners, shockingly chained, who were sentenced to 6 months in prison for stealing beef.

Being in the centre of the city the photos made you stop and reflect, often passerbys were shocked at the visuals and intrigued by them. During the two weeks the families also held protests to bring to light the issues of Deaths in Custody and the need for action.


The second part of the exhibition, was at Paddington Town Hall and featured parts of Jumbunna’s Sorry for Your Loss art pieces, the eye and the woven mat made from the RCAIDIC report, with family photos of some of the men and women who have died in custody alongside video footage  collated by Liz Deep Jones, this moving piece to the installation made people very aware of faces not just a statistic.

On Saturday 4th May, A panel discussion was held at the Imperial Hotel – 252 Oxford St Paddington to discuss this alarming issue and how it impacts Indigenous families and communities while accountability is questionable. Liz Deep-Jones moderated the panel which included, Nioka and Colin Chatfield (mother and father of Tane who DIC 2017) Latoya Dungay (mother of David who DIC in 2015), Jumbunna’s Pauline Clague, Greens MP David Shoebridge and lawyer – Stewart Levitt.

Indigenous (IN)Justice Panel: L to R – Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Stuart Levitt, Latoya Dungay, Liz Deep-Jones, Nioka Chatfield, Pauline Clague, MP David Shoebridge, Colin Chatfield

The fact that the families had a voice to speak and engage with a different crowd who were unaware of the shocking increases in incarceration and Deaths in Custody since the 1991 RCAIDIC report.