Students Representative Council, University of Sydney
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Rally outside David Dungay Coronial Inquest

Activists showed support for David Dungay Jr.'s family across 5 days as the coronial inquest into his murder reopened

Photo by Himath Siriniwasa. Photo by Himath Siriniwasa.

Activists and community members gathered to support the Dungay family last Friday  — the last day of the Coronial Inquest into David Dungay Jr.’s murder.

While many attended the actual inquest proceedings, the majority of supporters gathered as part of a vigil, with placards supporting the mourning Dungay family as they gathered in court to give testimony.

Supporters heard from Leetona Dungay, David’s mother, who made powerful demands for accountability and justice.

“Why [did] my beautiful son died such a horrible death?” Leetona asked, imploring the court to hold the murderers of Indigenous Australians in the health and legal systems accountable.

“We want to see justice for David’s death. Changes [to prison medical procedures] approved is one thing, but believe me, someone must be held accountable”

Dungay’s older sister Cynthia and his nephew, Paul Silva, delivered spoken poetry.

“They don’t care that’s how it seems… they take away our hopes and dreams,” Silva read.

Following an initial inquiry that occurred two and a half years after Dungay Jr.’s murder in 2015, the inquest resumed on the 4th of March this year at the Lidcombe Coronial Court.

The family voiced their outrage at the lack of immediate justice which culminated in a first inquiry which featured the harrowing video of Dungay’s murder was revealed.   Dungay is shown to be asphyxiated by Correctional officers while saying “I can’t breathe” a minimum of 12 times.

Supporters from several contingents appeared over the five days of the inquest. However, the main solidarity events were focussed on two days: when the inquiry was reopened and when the Dungay family were called on to give testimony.

Dungay’s younger brother, Jack Hill emphatically noted how the lengthy court proceedings and previous arduous legal proceedings had “a ripple effect on all the family.”

Over the course of this week, the Court established that the medical team were heavily unprepared. A nurse brought attention to how it was a “difficult situation” describing the presence of ”too many people” and feeling “crammed.” When asked what would happen today if a similar event occured, the nurse said: “everyone would be in place, [there would be] clear task delegation”.

Leetona Dungay’s powerful metaphor struck a chord with many. “Imagine a game of footy like David used to play, but one team has to play with one hand tied behind their back. That’s what racism and discrimination feel like for us.”

The findings of the inquiry will be given on the 23rd of August this year.