On Wednesday night the Legislative Council of the Parliament of South Australia passed a Bill to ban spit hoods in Law in every context, for people of every age, in your name; ‘Fella’s Bill’. Parties united in a unanimous vote against these torture devices; used in prisons, by police and in mental health facilities.
In her speech, Connie Bonaros MLC – who first introduced the Bill back in 2020 – apologised to all our family, including your young daughter, for your preventable death. This decision comes only days before the fifth anniversary of your death on the 26th September, after being brutally forced into that spit hood, into those cuffs, and put into that van face down with those 8 officers inside.
These five years have been gruelling. Not only have we advocated for this legislated ban for this long, but we have been subject to further delays in our grief process due to the multiple delays in the coronial inquiry into your death. In many instances, delays have turned into permanent questions we will likely never have the answers to about what happened in your final conscious moments in that van. The officers in that van claimed the penalty privilege against self-incrimination in court this year – a law that afforded them the right to silence.
We have also sat through a Supreme Court hearing in their attempt to have the Coroner removed from your inquest, we made submissions to the SA Parliament and gave evidence to their Inquiry into the Administration of Prisons, and we gave evidence to an SA Ombudsman who took it upon himself to inquire independently into how you were taken from us.
These five years have also sprung forth awe-inspiring moments of humanity. In the same way you travelled further on your journey after we scattered your ashes into the sea, your name has travelled around the world reaching every continent by way of petitions, emails and info sheets, interviews, talks and videos, poetry and creative works, and by your loved ones and allies that have carried you with them.
We have rallied in every state and territory across this continent for you, we have rallied in Aotearoa for you, we have marched on Washington, DC for you, and we have united in your name to end Aboriginal deaths in custody and end torture.
The fight for #JusticeforFella is far from over, especially as we sit and wait for the Coroner’s findings to be handed down. We will now begin calling for a Royal Commission into your death, alongside a national ban on spit hoods so other people and families don’t have to suffer.
At the very least, I feel assured that your name will no longer be synonymous with an archaic, punishment device. No, my brother, your name lives on as the breath of change that came hereafter because of how greatly you are loved and how deeply you are missed.
Justice for you, Wayne, forever.