• David Dungay Jnr celebrating his 18th birthday with our Mum Leetona and Uncle Hector. (Christine Dungay)Source: Christine Dungay
OPINION: David Dungay Jnr pleaded for help just before he died. In this tribute, David's sister Christine shares the whole story of why his life matters.
Christine Dungay

Living Black
15 Jul 2020 - 10:30 AM  UPDATED 14 Apr 2021 - 2:41 PM

Disclaimer: This article discusses Aboriginal deaths in custody, which may be upsetting for some readers. It also contains the names and images of Aboriginal people who have passed.

My name is Christine Dungay.

I am from Burnt Bridge Mission in Kempsey.
I am the eldest sister of two brothers; Ernest, David Junior and one sister, Cynthia.

On the 29th December, 2015, Police came to my home and all they said was “Are you David Dungay’s…” Before they could finish and even say ‘sister’, my heart broke instantly.

I was crying hysterically yelling “They killed my baby”.

I knew they killed him.

Ernest and I were born in Kempsey, then Mum moved us all to Queensland when I was around 9 years-old.

My baby brother David Dungay was born in 1989 in Ipswich. Junior is what the family called him, and he was the most beautiful little fat baby I’d ever seen. 

I doted on him every single day. I would get up early to make his bottles to feed him and just to play with him.

I loved to make him giggle, he had the biggest, most beautiful dimples.

When he started to walk he was like my little shadow.

His hair was long and curly, the curls covered his face.

Our Childhood 

In Queensland we suffered violence. I was always my brother’s protector.

I’d take the beating for my brothers, or hide them and run to the neighbours to call the police.

I won’t go into detail, but no child deserves to suffer like us. 

Junior was only 3 years-old when my mother plucked up the courage to leave, moving us all back to Burnt Bridge. We loved being back in the bush.

Then at the age of 6, Junior was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes; he required 3 needles a day.

By this time, I had four children, who Junior adored. I raised my brother from this point on.

I put David Jnr in school and he was doing great until he started hanging around the wrong crowd. Peer pressure came into his life. Boys would knock on his window so he'd go out, but I’d chase them away only to find David had snuck out. 


At the age of nineteen, David ended up in jail. He was sentenced to 7 years and moved around many different jails. On the inside, he started writing poetry and did Bible studies. He wanted to be a pastor when he was released.

In jail, my brother’s diabetes started playing up, I dont think it was managed it properly.

David then developed schizophrenia and was sent to Long Bay Correctional Centre Hospital. He was there for a number of years.

When David died, our family was so distraught. We wanted to know why?

We attended Coroner’s Court, only to walk away with unanswered questions.

Jatz and Jellybeans

When the Immediate Action Team IAT stormed my brother’s cell over a packet of biscuits. They were ordered to remove the biscuits, not my brother.

But I think he was eating crackers for a reason. 

David learned from a young age how to manage his sugar levels. He was taught by Mum to always have Jatz crackers and jellybeans as snacks. He would have thought, eating the crackers would lower his sugar levels. He knew he’s blood sugar level was ‘high’ and was trying to bring it down by eating a snack.

Why couldn't they have just let him eat the biscuits?

We also want to know why David’s blood was on his clothing and cell floor? He had a cut in the middle of he’s eyebrows and a busted lip.

The prison officers said the cut was from the riot shield but no blood and none of David's DNA was found on the shield.

As for David’s blood-stained clothing, it was destroyed and his cell cleaned before homicide detectives arrived.

Chance of survival

My brother was screaming “I can’t breathe” during the whole incident but they didn’t listen.

When he was moved into the next cell, they restrained David in the ‘prone position’. He had a knee on his neck.

Then they injected him with Midazolam while he was still restrained and screaming “I can’t breathe”.

Not once were my brother’s vitals checked, not until he stopped breathing.

They then attempted CPR by inserting a suction apparatus down his throat to help him breathe, but the cap was still on it. 

They gave my brother no chance of survival. 

We the family are angry about the Coroners Findings, as no one was held accountable.

If they used their common sense and just listened to my brother’s cry for help, he would still be with us today.

Five years later, we are still fighting for justice. Our family is raising money to support our campaign and I am working to support young people to do things that David was passionate about.  

But it took George Floyd's death, that was so similar to how David passed away, for people to open their eyes in Australia. 

I feel for George Floyd's family, as we know exactly how it feels.

The only difference is in the United State the officers were charged. This angers me.

We won’t stop until we get justice for David, and with every last breath, I promise you my baby brother, justice will come so you can finally rest in peace.


What will it take to eradicate deaths in custody?
OPINION: A human rights lawyer representing the Dungay Family argues one of the greatest threats to Black lives is racism in the health care system. Here he lays out what could be done to save lives.
"I never thought this would happen to my family", life after a death in custody
OPINION: Two years ago a cherished brother desperately called out for help. Nathan Reynolds could not breathe. This tribute, written by Nathan's sister explains why his life matters and why the system must change.

To hear more from the Dungay family, tune into Living Black: Aboriginal Lives Matter on SBS On Demand: