Prison Van death - Call for compensation

March 17, 2010 ABC

Perth Rally for Prison Van death - outside parliament house.

"There have been three outstanding matters that we have not seen action on, which is in our view outrageous - they are compensation for the Ward family, secondly criminal charges being laid and thirdly the termination of the contract with G4S" - Greens MLC Giz Watson

Supporters of Mr Ward call for compensation and charges to be laid over the elder's death

The State Government has confirmed an interim ex-gratia payment of $200,000 is proposed for the family of an Aboriginal elder who died of heatstroke after being transported in a prison van.

The payment is yet to be approved by State Cabinet.

In spite of the announcement, demonstrators outside Parliament House crowded into the public gallery to continue their protest.

Parliament was briefly suspended while about 70 of them were escorted from the gallery.

Earlier, they rallied on the steps of State Parliament, chanting "shame" as they called for compensation and said they were frustrated no criminal charges had been laid following Mr Ward's death.

Greens MLC Giz Watson addressed the crowd.

She said the government failed in its duty of care of Mr Ward.

"I think the fundamental question in regards to Mr Ward is that he should not have been in the van to start with."

Speaking before the rally, Marc Newhouse from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee said family and supporters wanted those responsible for Mr Ward's death to be charged, and the contract with prisoner transportation firm G4S terminated.

"There have been three outstanding matters that we have not seen action on, which is in our view outrageous - they are compensation for the Ward family, secondly criminal charges being laid and thirdly the termination of the contract with G4S," he said.

Govt urged to hasten Ward compo

18th March 2010 ABC News

The Western Australian Opposition has criticised the State Government for not acting quickly to compensate the family of an Aboriginal elder who died from heat stroke after travelling in the back of a prison van.

The Attorney-General has announced he will seek Cabinet approval for an interim ex-gratia payment to the family of Mr Ward, who died after being transported across the Goldfields in 2008.

Christian Porter says he expects the family to get a preliminary payment of $200,000 from the State Government by the end of this month.

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley says Mr Ward's family will remain destitute while the Government finalises the payment.

"The fact is this has not gone before the Cabinet and the Government of Western Australia have still not made a decision on compensation," he said.

Ex-gratia payment for family of elder killed by heat in jail van

Nicolas Perpitch The Australian March 23, 2010

THE family of an Aboriginal elder who died while being transported across the desert in the back of an overheated prison van says an interim ex-gratia payment of $200,000 is overdue but welcome.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday the payment would be made to the family of the elder, Mr Ward, to support their day-to-day living expenses. A decision on a full ex-gratia payment would be made "soon".

Mr Ward's cousin, Daisy Ward, said his wife and siblings had been worried the money might not come. "I am happy," she said. "Even though it took two years, even though it took so long, it's good to support his wife and his four kids."

The Aboriginal Legal Service had asked for the interim payment in January, while the state opposition urged the payment to be expedited because Mr Ward's wife and children were relying on charity to get by.

Mr Ward, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons, died in 2008 when he was put in the back of a faulty Corrective Services van, operated by security firm G4S, after being refused bail on a drink-driving charge.

He was given a pie and a bottle of water for the 400km trip from Laverton to Kalgoorlie as the temperature soared to 45C in the rear compartment of the van, which had a broken air-conditioning unit.

A coronial report found G4S, the Department of Corrective Services and the two guards responsible for transporting Mr Ward contributed to his death.

Mr Barnett said yesterday Mr Ward's death occurred in part because the previous Labor government had neglected the prison vehicle fleet. "In addition to directly addressing the issue of an ex-gratia payment, this government has reversed a decision that the previous government made not to replace the prisoner transportation vehicle fleet," he said.

"So far, 16 of 40 vehicles have been replaced and this government is on track to replace all . . . by the end of this year."

The Barnett government has ruled out cancelling G4S's $75 million service contract, saying this could be done only if there were more than two "separate and isolated" deaths in custody within 12 months.