Any residents of Palm Island who were affected by the events of November 2004 are encouraged to contact Levitt Robinson in order to register as a group member in the proceeding.
Image source: Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council http://www.piac.com.au/
Levitt Robinson Solicitors is running a class action on behalf of Aboriginal residents of Palm Island concerning allegations of institutionalised racial discrimination within the Queensland Police Service in the events surrounding the 2004 death of Palm Island’s Mulrinji (aka Cameron Doomadgee) in police custody.
An internal investigation into Mulrunji’s death cleared the police of all wrongdoing. Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission was later to conclude that “the investigation into the death of Mulrunji was seriously flawed, its integrity gravely compromised in the eyes of the very community it was meant to serve.”
The death in custody and flawed police investigation sparked a protest in the local community – since dubbed the “Palm Island Riots” by the media. In response, the Queensland police declared a state of emergency on the Island and proceeded to send waves of armed police officers to arrest numerous Palm Island residents in their homes.
Levitt Robinson is acting for the residents of Palm Island affected by those events.
An initial trial of the lead applicants’ claims was held in September 2015 and April 2016. On 5 December 2016, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the applicants, awarding them a total of $220,000 in compensation. The Court also paved the way for more compensation to be awarded to group members with similar claims.
In her landmark judgment, Justice Mortimer made nine separate declarations that officers of the QPS had engaged in unlawful racial discrimination contrary to section 9(1) of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
Her Honour described the differential treatment by the police of the Palm Islanders by reference to their race as “an affront to the rule of law.”
Levitt Robinson Senior Partner, Stewart Levitt, told the ABC that:
“It’s the first time an entire community has been represented in a class action against a state of Australia alleging racial discrimination and being vindicated in that cause.”
“You see terrible things happening to people without any remedies and there’s so much disillusionment in the Indigenous community because they just don’t get a fair go under our legal system.”
Levitt Robinson is currently reviewing the judgment and will soon be seeking directions for the determination of individual group member claims.
The following documents are available for download:
- Notice of Disclosure of Costs Agreement
- Further Amended Originating Application
- Third Further Amended Statement of Claim
- Defence to Third Further Amended Statement of Claim
- Reply to Defence to Third Further Amended Statement of Claim
- Judgment in Wotton v State of Queensland (No 5)  FCA 1457
- Judgment in Wotton v State of Queensland (No 6)  FCA 245
A number of court documents relating to the Palm Island class action can be downloaded from the online file on the Federal Court website.