• Hosts Shahni Wellington and JP Janke, with Noongar man Marlon Johns pictured (NITV)Source: NITV
“One minute he’s with us, next minute he’s gone": Justice for Marlon Johns', plus an update on the violence against women taskforce
By
Neil McMahon

Source:
NITV
25 Apr 2021 - 9:01 PM  UPDATED 25 Apr 2021 - 9:01 PM

NOONGAR TRAGEDY

“One minute he’s with us, next minute he’s gone.”

Last Tuesday, The Point looked into the death of 30-year-old Marlon Johns Jr, who died when he was hit by a train in Fremantle on February 28.

His father, Marlon Sr, said: “I want answers. I want to know what happened. Because I can't even sleep at night.”

In the years before his death, Marlon Johns had become a prominent youth mentor, who turned his story of addiction and crime into a hopeful story of redemption.

He once told the ABC: “Some people say that once a crim, always a crim… I believe people do deserve a second chance. Even a third or fourth chance until they get it right, you know what I mean?”

Marlon Sr is asking for a coroner’s inquest into his son’s death, and his mother, Cheryl Butcher, is asking for the CCTV station footage to be released.

“I don't want to see when Marlon got hit by the train, I just want to see him on that train station. I will know whether Marlon was doing what they are saying he was doing … Marlon was very cultural. And it's bad enough (the transit officer) has said something about his criminal past...”

WA police told The Point the case was before the coroner.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

The Morrison government is establishing a national plan to deal with violence against women, and some say there should be a separate plan for Indigenous women. The Point spoke to Dr Marlene Longbottom, from the University of Wollongong.

Dr Longbottom said: “We understand that Aboriginal women and children experience violence at higher rates than other populations in the country. We need to have some real dialogue and proper recognition for the issues that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience as a result of violence. So, this is vital that we have our own section or a part of the national plan that actually reflects the issues that our community encounters.”

She said Indigenous women were far less likely to seek assistance from police and other agencies.

“It would only be in a severe case where they would actually seek the support of the police.”

DEFENCE SUICIDES

Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie joined The Point to discuss what has become one of her key public platforms, advocating for a royal commission into defence force suicides. The commission was announced this week.

Senator Lambie, a former defence force member, said: “There are so many more stories out there that need to be heard… trying to break into the department of defence and trying to get them to answer questions, they are a wall of secrecy. The only person that will be able to do that is a royal commissioner and the investigator that he puts on to his team to go in there and have a good look at it. There will be no more cover-ups. Those days are over.”

Lambie said there needed to be dedicated Indigenous seats in Parliament because current members were bound by party rules.

“They have to play within the party rules. It means they don't get to speak out. Otherwise, they are put to the backbench and they are now for election next time around. They know the punishments.”

NDIS AND RACISM

The Point examined the controversy over mandatory independent assessments from government-approved doctors for people relying on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and how reforms will affect Indigenous people.

The program interviewed Tori Passi, of the First Peoples Disability Network. 

“We're experiencing racism, to put it plainly,” he said

“People feel like they can't go into the agency to access the NDIS because they feel like they are discriminated against because they are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. And second to that would be ableism.

“Some people feel like that the support they are getting from local area co-ordinators, when they get their plan set up, they feel they don't have an understanding of disability or how to engage properly with mob.”

The Point also spoke to Jake Briggs, on the NSW Central Coast, who set up his own support provider after frustrations with the system.

“I think it's just going to be more eyes on mob. You know, mob are fearful that if I go and get my child on to the NDIS, there's a possibility that they don't understand how we live as Blackfullas and it's going to mean more removals of children of young people and it is going to be more disconnection, more trauma, just because they haven't consulted from the very beginning to start with.”

50 YEARS OF ALS

The Point celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Legal Service, with a retrospective photographic exhibition in Sydney illustrating the remarkable history of the service. The exhibition is at Australia Hall, the site of the Day of Mourning protests in 1938.

Karly Warner, the CEO of the NSW/ACT ALS, said: “It certainly has grown from those times. 

“I think it was the [Gough] Whitlam government that actually provided that first grant to the ALS of some $20,000 or something like that to kick it off. To now have 24 offices across NSW and the ACT, over 220 people in terms of a workforce, but I really can't emphasise enough how much work those activists did in the late 60s to actually bring about this change.”

VOICE TO PARLIAMENT

Professor Marcia Langton joined The Point to discuss progress on national consultation on the Voice to Parliament.

Of the response as she has held meetings nationwide, Professor Langton said: “Some quite large meetings. 60 to 100 people at lunchtime or in the evenings and quite small meetings in the morning. … but the numbers had to be limited because of COVID-19 social distancing rules. But I have been very happy with the turn-out.

“People are engaging … what people are well and truly sick of is the revolving door of government officials coming to see them and not listening to them. And they told us that plenty of times. And that's why they like the proposal that we're putting to them. Because they want shared decision making and they rightly point out that it's not just us having a voice that's important — they certainly want that — but they also want government officials and ministers to listen to them and sit down at the table and engage in real, shared decision making.”

- The Point airs every Tuesday, 7.30pm on NITV

Family demand inquest into death of Noongar man following alleged racism
Marlon Johns Jr died after being struck by a train. His family are demanding an investigation into an alleged incident of racism by transit authority guards.