• Cartoonist Bill Leak made headlines with his controversial cartoon that attempted to satirise the situation between Indigenous fathers and children (AAP)Source: AAP
Controversial Australian cartoonist Bill Leak has died in hospital from a suspected heart attack at the age of 61.
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NITV News
10 Mar 2017 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 13 Mar 2017 - 9:40 AM

The Australian newspaper has reported today that its controversial cartoonist Bill Leak has died in a NSW hospital this morning aged 61 after a suspected heart attack.

Leak won nine Walkley awards and 19 Stanley awards for his work, which often attracted criticism - usually for being racist.

He made headlines last year after The Australian published one of his cartoons which depicted a drunk Aboriginal man unable to remember his son's name saw him and the newspaper investigated for breaching section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. 

The cartoon was published in response to the ABC's Four Corners report into the treatment of children in Don Dale's Detention Centre in the Northern Territory. 

The image sparked controversy and outrage from several prominent Indigenous figures labelling it as racist and an 'attack on vulnerable people in our society.' 

More than 700 complaints, mostly from individuals, but also from leading Indigenous groups and associations, were filed in response.

The Press Council stated that promoting free speech through The Australian of two opinion pieces on Indigenous issues in the News Corp broadsheet would be an appropriate response.

“The Press Council understands and actively champions the notion that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the essential underpinnings of a liberal democracy, ensuring that citizens are able to hold powerful individuals and interests accountable, and to promote the contest of ideas that best enables sound policy making, good government and a strong and open society." 

Mr Leak's cartoon threw him into a battle with the Human Rights Commission after three people lodged a complaint under section 18c of the Act. 

Twenty-five year old Melissa Dinnison was one of three Indigenous people to bring a complaint to the Commission.

She claimed after lodging her complaint her privacy was breached by the Australian newspaper. 

“Accessing our private social media accounts seems like they just want to prove what they can do to me," she told NITV. 

Related reading
Press Council rules out action over Bill Leak's cartoon despite more than 700 complaints
The Australian press Council has decided to take "no further action" against The Australian, after they published a controversial cartoon portraying an Indigenous man with a beer can, not remembering his son's name, despite receiving over 700 complaints about the illustration.

“I didn’t ask for this at all. I just thought I was exercising my rights. I read on their website [Human Rights Commission] what the process was before I did it, so I presumed it was going to be confidential, like it was meant to."

The image, however, did spark a positive reaction, seeing a trend in #IndigenousDads which encouraged Indigenous fathers and families to use social media to share photos and memories of their positive family life to promote Indigenous fathers and prove Bill Leak's cartoon was incorrect. 

Relating reading
Woman behind Bill Leak cartoon complaint dropped charges due to 'harassment'
Melissa Dinnison has told NITV she let go of the complaint because she felt bullied by The Australian newspaper.
White voices are the only social commentary according to Bill Leak
COMMENT | NITV Senior Editor and Founder of IndigenousX, Luke Pearson wants to have the difficult conversation about intergenerational trauma, alcoholism and family breakdowns, not drunk Dads who supposedly don't know their kid's names.
Bill Leak Defends Racist Caricature Bill Leak