National Network stands in solidarity with the family and community of Constance Watcho

The National Network stands in solidarity with the family and community of Constance Watcho, who was disappeared and murdered in 2017. As we await the findings of the coronial inquest into her death, we extend our heartfelt support and deepest condolences to her loved ones.

‘While we hope that the coronial inquest will bring about justice and accountability for Constance Watcho’s family, our faith in the process remains limited,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘What we know about these kinds of inquests is that they fall short of delivering answers or any kind of true justice, especially for Aboriginal women who continue to be disproportionately affected by colonial violence and systemic abuse and neglect,’ said Tabitha Lean.

Aboriginal women are being disappeared from our communities at an alarming rate. Professor Watego, in her submission to the Parliamentary inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, highlighted the ongoing violence faced by Indigenous women:

Mass sexual violence by white men towards Indigenous women has been a core part of colonisation within a much broader colonial project to ‘disappear’ Indigenous sovereignty & presence in this place. Police have been complicit in this widespread violence both as direct perpetrators of violence against Indigenous women & by refusing to investigate the violence of other settlers.’

The coronial inquest process into Aboriginal deaths, including the coronial court itself, acts as an alibi court rather than a deliverer of justice. These inquests are complicit enablers in the state violence
perpetrated against Aboriginal people. The courts alibi the state, but also the people involved in the incident itself, often leaving the families without answers or justice. Dr Amy McQuire spoke of the trauma suffered by the families, as ‘a trauma associated with the continual ambiguity of ‘not knowing’ and having that ‘not knowing’ continually ignored by police, courts, the media and the state.’

‘Constance Watcho’s life mattered, and so did her death,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘The circumstances surrounding her death, including how the police failed to pursue the truth about her murder are critical. Every moment leading up to her death, and the subsequent inaction by the authorities,
matters. We support the family and join them in their demands for answers, truth and justice,’ said Tabitha Lean.

The Aboriginal community are calling for people to be present at the Brisbane coronial court on Thursday 6 June at 10am to support the family. It is time to show up and support the family.

‘The National Network renew our calls for the establishment of an independent national body to investigate and address the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘We argue that this body should be empowered to operate with transparency, accountability, and a deep understanding of the aspirations for justice by Indigenous communities,’ said Tabitha Lean.

‘The crisis of disappeared and murdered Indigenous women in this country demands urgent action. Constance Watcho’s life mattered and we owe it to her and every other family in this situation to
create a system that truly seeks justice and offers support, rather than one that perpetuates harm and neglect,’ said Tabitha Lean.

The National Network remains steadfast in our call for true justice and accountability. We will continue to fight for the rights and recognition of all Aboriginal women and their families.

For further comment, please contact Tabitha Lean 0499 780 226