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1983: Death of John Pat in Roebourne Prison WA, prompting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

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28 September 2020 All day

Noel Olive explains in the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

“On 28 September 1983 several members of the Roebourne police force attended a meeting of the Western Australian Police Union of Workers at Karratha. They adjourned to the local golf club for drinks, and then proceeded to the Top Bar of the Victoria Hotel at Roebourne. A brawl broke out between the off-duty police officers and a group of Aborigines, including Pat, a 16 year old Aboriginal boy who died of head injuries alleged to have been caused in a disturbance between Aboriginal people and Police…

The circumstances of Pat’s death were investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, established in 1987…

Pat’s death became for Aboriginal people a symbol of injustice and oppression. The Aboriginal poet, Jack Davis, wrote John Pat (1988). The John Pat Memorial Day for Deaths in Custody is observed each year with a ceremony at the old Fremantle Prison.”

Noel Olive, “Pat, John Peter (1966-1983)”, in Australian Dictionary of Biography