Performing under the moniker Spinifex Gum, Felix Reibl and his Cat Empire pal Ollie McGill have joined forces with Indigenous girls choir Marliya to highlight the tragic death of Ms Dhu.
At just 22 years of age, Ms Dhu died in police custody in Port Hedland in August 2016. A coronial inquiry into her untimely death was released late last year.
Felix wrote “Ms Dhu” after hearing the story while travelling to the Pilbara with the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, where the teens from Marliya got their start. He says a lot about its origins, but it’s all so significant I wanted to print his comments in their entirety.
“When I first read about what happened to Ms Dhu my reaction was first disbelief, then anger and heartbreak. How was this poor young woman let down so badly by the police, medical, and justice systems in WA? How could she be called a liar and her cries of pain not be taken seriously for three days, when even the most basic care or respect would have saved her life? How is it that a young, injured, Indigenous woman with unpaid fines gets locked up, and the people who let her die out of sheer neglect not be held accountable in any meaningful way? What does this say about endemic, institutional racism in Australia? What does this say about us as a broader community? Where do we go from here?” he questioned.
“It’s a political song. I’ve tried to tell the story as it happened, often using direct quotes from the courtroom. The young Indigenous singers of the chorus are the heart of the piece – a voice of youth and defiance. We’re dedicating the track to Ms Dhu’s family, who have shown extraordinary courage and resilience in the face of tragedy and loss. We’ve been in communication with them along the way. Any profits it generates will go to them. We hope it does something to keep this terrible event – and the necessity for change – at the forefront of the broader public’s mind. We hope it serves as a statement of solidarity with Ms Dhu’s family and the Indigenous community as a whole.”
All proceeds from the single’s sale will benefit Ms Dhu’s family as they try to rebuild their lives. You can raise awareness of the issue and single by writing about it on your socials with the hashtag #imissdhu.