South Australia has made history becoming the first state or territory in the nation to permanently ban the use of spit hoods.
On Wednesday, SA Parliament united to pass Fella’s Bill, otherwise known as the Statues Amendment (Spit Hood Prohibition) Bill through the Upper House.
The legislation sees the ban of spit hoods in all settings, including police and prison custody, mental health facilities and immigration detention centres.
The fight for the devices to be banned was led by the family of Wayne Fella Morrison, who died in custody in 2016.
The 29-year-old Wiradjuri, Wirangu and Kokatha man died in custody at Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Whilst on remand at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison, Morrison was restrained in flexi-cuffs and a spit hood. He was placed in a prison van for transportation with seven officers.
Morrison was pulled from the van unresponsive and died three days later. There is no CCTV footage from inside the vehicle.
“Our hard work has finally come to fruition today with the banning of spit hoods, and at least I know no one else is going to suffer from wearing this inhumane torture device like Wayne did,” said Aunty Caroline.
She calls for other states and territories to adopt a legislative ban.
“Those officers will never be able to forget my son, Wayne Fella Morrison,” she said.
“The last time I heard Wayne’s voice was a week before his image became synonymous with these barbaric devices.”
“I welcome this step toward accountability, but it isn’t the end for us. I call for a Royal Commission into my son’s death, and a national ban on spit hoods, so that no other parent has to suffer this grief.”
Rule joined their mother in celebrating the passing of Fella’s Bill however, acknowledged the fight that continued.
“I am left feeling numb because Wayne isn’t here anymore, but I am also left feeling hopeful that today my Mum, my siblings, my nieces and nephews and all my family can be proud of our fight,” they said.
“Today’s legislated ban on spit hoods should call forth questions of accountability, and we call for a Royal Commission into my brother’s death.
“I hope that the Corrections officers involved in putting a spit hood over Wayne’s face have considered their actions and will apologise, and that his death has contributed to the global movement against spit hoods.”
Rule notes the “ample opportunities” for a legislative ban on spit hoods that have been present in the last 15-years.
“We all watched as these were used on young people in South Australia, at Don Dale in the Northern Territory and other states. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“I hope the ban gives other families some sense of reassurance, but Australia continues to breach anti-torture conventions and children’s rights, and continues to murder Aboriginal people.”
Victorian Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe stood in solidarity with the family in advocating for the legislation to be passed.
“Fella’s Bill shows how strong First Nations people are, because we fight for justice while holding the pain of injustice, in institutions that were never designed to protect us,” she said.
“I’d like to see the ban expanded nationally, there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be.”
By Rachael Knowles