An Aboriginal woman has died in custody in a Melbourne hospital after she was transferred from the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre maximum security prison.
Corrections Victoria said the 30-year-old prisoner was taken to Sunshine Hospital last week, where she died on Monday surrounded by her family.
“The death of any person in custody is a heartbreaking tragedy and the team at Corrections Victoria sends its deepest condolences to the woman’s family,” it said in a statement.
“We recognise that all deaths in custody have impacts on family members, friends, victims and the broader Aboriginal community, and we’re working to ensure they are provided with the support they need.”
Her death is now under investigation by the Coroners Court of Victoria to determine the time and cause of death.
The death comes after a number of deaths in custody reported in recent weeks.
43-year-old Glen Francis died in Queensland’s Maryborough Correctional Centre on November 16 after he was found unresponsive in his cell and could not be revived. A police investigation is underway.
The death of a 26-year-old Aboriginal man at Shortland Correctional Centre in Newcastle on November 7 is also under investigation after he was similarly found unresponsive in his cell.
The 30-year-old woman is at least the 475th First Nations person to die in custody since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991, according to the Guardian’s Deaths Inside database and the Australian Institute of Criminology. The database is yet to be updated with recent deaths that are still being investigated.
Taungurung man Marcus Stewart of Victoria’s First Peoples’ Assembly told the ABC the news was “heartbreaking” news, and that the state and federal governments needed to take actions to reduce the First Nations incarceration rate.
“The system is geared against us … whether it’s from locking 10-year-olds up in prison or whether it’s the over-incarceration rates and the growing number of Aboriginal people who are dying in custody in this country, it’s completely unacceptable,” he said.