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Cleveland Dodd's family and supporters march for answers ahead of inquest

Rhiannon Clarke -

The family of a 16-year-old boy who tragically became the first youth to pass away in a detention centre in Western Australia are calling for a complete reform of the state's justice system. 

Cleveland Dodd lost his life in hospital following self-inflicted injuries during his time at Unit 18 youth detention facility in October 2023.

A casket was carried through the streets of Perth, representing all the Indigenous people who died incarceration (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

On Tuesday, prior to the commencement on Wednesday of a coronial inquiry into his passing, the family of Cleveland held a demonstration in Perth, with speakers including justice campaigner Megan Krakouer and Senator Dorinda Cox.

“Cleveland Dodd is no longer here because the state of Western Australia failed him, they failed a family,” said Ms Krakourer. 

“People say 'they shouldn’t be in jail', well while they're in prison they're meant to get that support, that help - the psychological support…that was something that was failed."

“Cleveland is one of many that have died in that system.”

Cleveland Dodd family. (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Senator Cox participated in the rally to show her support for the Dodd family and urged Australia to contemplate its colonial past, emphasising the ongoing issue of over-incarcerating Indigenous people.

“Our First Nations people are disproportionately affected by that and what we now see is children are losing their lives,” she said.

Senator Cox hopes the inquest will finally provide the family the answers they have been seeking since October 12 last year.

“We know the Western Australian government has expedited this part of the inquest," she said.

“What I hope is that all of the answers that need to be given to this family and this community with respect and with the utmost confidence that we work to prevent the deaths of First Nations people,” she said. 

Senator Cox stands in solidarity with the Dodd family (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

The rally provided a chance for families with comparable experiences to offer mutual support. Wayne’s Ugle’s family and Jomen Blanket's family were also present in solidarity.

“There's quite a few families who have lost someone in prison, there are mothers and fathers of those who have lost loved one in that terrible setting and that’s just failing all our people,” said Ms Krakourer. 

“There will be more young people that die in Banksia Hill because of this department of corrective services and justice do not want to listen to the solution and that is wrong on their part."

Wayne Ugle family were so present at the rally (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

The Dodd family will be present at the inquest, beginning Wednesday 3 April, which they anticipate will be the most challenging eight days they have ever faced. They are scheduled to view CCTV footage of the morning when the incident occurred on Thursday, followed by testimonies from witnesses on Friday.

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