Call to ban all-white juries in Indigenous cases in WA


Sophie Gannon

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee deputy chairman Desmond Blurton and Brad Pettitt MLC shake hands after handing over the petition to Parliament.

Indigenous community and advocacy groups came together to deliver a powerful message to lawmakers at the steps of WA Parliament House.

Rally attendees called on Parliament to ban all-white juries in cases in which Indigenous people were the defendant, as well as put forth a petition to support an “urgent review of the justice system.”

The petition, signed by more than 2,500 people, calls to “identify systemic and procedural factors contributing to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The petition was handed to Greens WA State Parliament representative Brad Pettitt, who formally presented it to parliament.

Mr Pettitt said that this petition should start a process in parliament to review discrimination that exists in our justice system.

He said he hoped that this results in a series of recommendations that make material changes.

“The system is clearly broken,” Mr Pettitt said.

“It’s not working and there are things that can be done to improve it and today putting the petition in is a start to that process.”

The delivery of this petition marks a significant step forward in the fight for justice reform and recognition of Indigenous rights in WA.

Indigenous advocate Dr Betsy Buchanan has worked alongside the Noongar community for more than 40 years and she spoke on her experiences supporting Indigenous families who have fallen victim to this system and the significance of the petition.

“This year there has been a lot of deaths in custody already. I’ve worked with two families that have been affected by Hakea prison and that’s pretty extreme,” Dr Buchanan said.

According to Dr Buchanan, the balance of juries becomes crucial when significant issues take place, which is why a broader reform is necessary.

The petition was formally presented to WA Parliament, marking the beginning of discussions about potential law reforms.