• Ms Dhu's grandmother, Carol Roe, has opened up about the pain of the aftermath of Ms Dhu's death. (AAP)
The Western Australia's harsh fine-default laws may be thrown out five years after Ms Dhu's death.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
26 Sep 2019 - 11:50 AM  UPDATED 26 Sep 2019 - 11:50 AM

The WA government is attempting to overhaul the state’s unique fine enforcement system which has imprisoned thousands of people to wipe court fines.

The regime has been criticised for disproportionately affecting Indigenous women.

The catalyst for the reforms was the case of Ms Dhu, a Yamatji woman who died in custody in 2014 after being locked up for more than $3600 in unpaid fines.

Her grandmother, Nanna Carol Roe, has welcomed the proposed new laws but said reform should have happened sooner.

"I’m glad they’re doing it and it was a long time in the making but my granddaughter paid the biggest price,” Ms Roe said.

“No justice whatsoever for my granddaughter. She was dragged around in that cell like a dead kangaroo.”

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WA Attorney-General John Quigley said the reform package being introduced to parliament this week was influenced by recommendations from Ms Dhu’s coronial inquest.

“The current default system has had a particularly harsh effect on the Indigenous community and on poor people,” he said.

Dennis Eggington, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, has been advising the attorney-general about changing the law.

“This negatively impacts on the Aboriginal community,” he told NITV News.

“We’re overrepresented in the criminal justice system, and we’re overrepresented for people who are jailed for unpaid fines.”

“I would urge all politicians of all political persuasions to get behind this bill because it's making this a better place to live and a more fair and just society.”

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Debbie Kilroy, the founder of the prisoner advocacy group Sisters Inside, has welcomed the proposed changes under the Labor government led by WA Premier Mark McGowan.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction and they’re finally doing what they said they’ll do," she told NITV News.

However, she has expressed concerns about fine defaulters arrested between now and when the proposed legislation comes into effect.

Noongar woman Kennann Courtney Dickie was arrested for unpaid fines last weekend when she went to the police to report an alleged robbery.

She hopes a fairer methods will be introduced to enforce fines.

"I'm sure that there's another way to handle this sort of situation because when it comes down it, it’s just money that’s outstanding," Ms Dickie said.