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Monday, June 13, 2016

The story of Vijitha De Alwis:

Vijitha De Alwis is a former lawyer with the Aboriginal legal service in WA.
He was convicted in 2011 of assaulting a woman while he was trying to commit suicide and spent nearly five years in prison.

"As she grabbed the shovel it went off my hands and it struck her head that's all that happened," he said.
His daughter Sonali has taken up his case and said her father was wrongly sentenced to more than four years in prison because of a paperwork error.
She said her father was sentenced for assault with intent but the judge at trial did not accept he intentionally hurt his ex-partner.

The difference between the two charges was one digit on paperwork.
Ms De Alwis said her father should have spent less than a year in prison but instead was there nearly five years.
"People are judging my father because he was a prisoner," Ms de Alwis said.


"I can say my dad is a good father. If he wasn't, I wouldn't have given up my life for four years.
"He is in a very, very bad state right now. But he is a good man."
Mr De Alwis was a judge in Sri Lanka and worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Australia.
He was eventually disbarred in Australia and struggled with a raft of physical and mental health conditions.
Ms De Alwis is continuing to pursue her father's case through the courts.Reports suggest prison regimens do not match well with daily medication patterns.Vijitha de Alwis was recently released from prison in Western Australia and said his diabetes was so poorly managed he went into a diabetic coma at least three times while inside.Now aged 71, he said the prison schedule meant he did not have time to prepare and consume food after getting insulin.

"Duty of care is ignored, completely ignored," he said.

"There were days when I wasn't given anything. I was panicking.

"I had to manage it with my meals. I didn't know whether my blood sugar was high or low. I had so many hypos [instances of hypoglycaemia]."

He said he now had brain damage as a result.

"The total effect of all of that will be long-lasting," he said.

"The brain is damaged, and brain problems you get and that is reflected in the memory."

His daughter Sonali has left a career in family law to represent her father and said documents she obtained under Freedom of Information laws confirmed his claims.

"We saw him holding a bag of glucose tablets and that was his meal for the day, and we're like, 'What?'" she said.
Patients encouraged to care for themselves

Mr De Alwis said Mr de Alwis' experience pointed to a larger problem.

In December last year, David Dungay died in NSW's Long Bay prison. His family said he had diabetes and his death was preventable.

"I'm concerned about the thousands of prisoners who are in these prisons," Mr De Alwis said.The Department of Corrective Services in WA said it managed diabetes according to guidelines and encouraged patients to stick to treatment plans."Patients with long-term conditions are encouraged to care for themselves as they would in the community," a spokesman said."As individuals vary in their specific needs, treatment is tailored according to individual requirements."

A spokesman said serious incidents were investigated on a case-by-case basis and staff held a "lessons learnt" session.In NSW, serious incidents are recorded in a briefing note sent to the Corrective Services Commissioner and police investigate serious assaults.
Human rights advocates are concerned rising cases of serious assault, injury and illness are going largely uninvestigated in Australian prisons.
Key points:

    Concerns have been raised about the lack of reporting surrounding near misses in jail
    Near misses occur when an inmate almost dies because of assault, illness or injury
    Experts say lessons cannot be learnt from the incidents if they are not reported

Twenty-five years after the release of the findings into the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, advocates have said it is time to turn attention to such incidents, known as "near misses".

Near misses occur when an inmate almost dies because of assault, illness or injury.

Charandev Singh, an advocate and paralegal who is widely regarded as an expert on deaths in custody, said because no-one actually dies, near miss incidents do not trigger the usual reporting mechanisms associated with a death in custody.

"When there's a near death in custody there's no reporting to any external body like the coroner, there's no reporting to the police, there's not any kind of investigation," he said.

"In Australia, we don't count [near misses], we don't report on them publicly and there's no evidence that we learn from them in preventing deaths in custody."

The figures that are available from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show serious incidents in Australian prisons are rising for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates.

Nearly one-third of Indigenous inmates in 2015 had to see medical staff for injuries, up from 22 per cent in 2012.Eight per cent of all inmates were attacked while in prison and 4 per cent-self harmed, up from 2 per cent in 2012.In the UK, a 2008 House of Lords decision ruled that all near misses in government custody had to be independently recorded and investigated the same as a death in custody.Proponents say the UK policy has led to important recommendations for reform.
Near misses 'absolutely' need to be treated same as deaths Marc Newhouse from the Deaths In Custody Watch Committee said the daily reports they received backed the figures."With overcrowding you're inevitably going to see increase in cases of self-harm, near misses, as well as people not getting appropriate medical attention when they need it," he said.

"They absolutely need to be treated the same as deaths in custody."

In Australia, a particular concern is the treatment of chronic illness such as diabetes.

ඔබගේ අදහස් අපි මහත් සේ අගයමු. නිර්නාමිකව හෝ අදහස් පළ කිරීමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී තිබෙන්නේ එම නිසා ය. එහෙත්, එය අපහරණය නො කිරීම ඔබ‍ගේ වගකීමකි.