A terminally-ill man has been freed from custody in Queensland, after mounting pressure on the Queensland Government from the public, the media and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.
Just two weeks ago, 48-year-old Northern Territory man Marshall Wallace was sentenced to 15-months in prison, after he was caught driving without a licence in Mount Isa, in Queensland's north.
The decision was handed down despite doctors providing a letter to the court saying Mr Wallace was unfit for custody because he has liver cancer and only months to live.
Minister Nigel Scullion wrote to Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, asking her to reconsider the imprisonment of a terminally-ill Indigenous man in the Gulf Country region of the state.
He requested that Ms Palaszczuk appraise herself of the facts of the man's imprisonment and consider any opportunities to support his parole application.
Last week, the ABC quoted Mr Wallace's wife Maxine saying she fears her husband will become Australia's next Indigenous death in custody.
"He should be released back to his loved ones. I want to buy him some time, surrounded by his family," she said.
A spokesperson for the Minister said he had questioned whether imprisonment was an appropriate form of punishment in Mr Wallace's circumstances.
A statement from his office stated the Coalition is working towards reducing Queensland's Indigenous incarceration rate, 'addressing the underlying causes that increase the likelihood of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people coming into contact with the criminal justice system.'
It goes on to state that 'the Queensland Government is directly responsible for running the state's criminal justice system' and 'the Government is providing approximately $267 million a year through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy for activities to improve community safety and address the drivers of Indigenous incarceration.'
The spokesperson said Minister Scullion is absolutely committed to reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia’s prisons and preventing further deaths in custody.
Minister Scullion encourages his state and territory colleagues to continue to work with him to address systemic issues as well as take a personal and practical interest in the individual cases of Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system.
Mr Marshall's family made a public appeal for him to receive parole so he can die at home.