Prisoners’ Legal Service supports cultural practices

Sorry Business is an important period of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that involves responsibilities and obligations to attend funerals and participate in other cultural events, activities, or ceremonies.

Eli* is an Aboriginal man who was imprisoned in North Queensland due to a parole suspension.

Prisoners’ Legal Service was contacted by a Cultural Liaison Officer on behalf of Eli because his uncle had passed away and the funeral was scheduled for the following week. Eli’s uncle was his primary father figure and he needed to attend the funeral and engage in Sorry Business to meet his cultural obligations as well as to support his grieving.

PLS made urgent submissions to the Parole Board Queensland (PBQ) seeking reconsideration of Eli’s parole suspension which would enable him to attend the funeral and engage in Sorry Business. The PBQ urgently reconsidered the decision to suspend Eli’s parole however instead decided to cancel his parole order, meaning he would not be released. PLS made further urgent submissions.

The PBQ reconsidered and decided to lift the cancellation and re-release Eli back onto parole. He was released the day before the funeral and was able to attend and engage in Sorry Business.

PLS’ knowledge and understanding of cultural obligations and Sorry Business ensure it acted urgently in this matter for Eli to best support him and reduce the risks of further disconnection from his family and community at such an important time.

*Name changed to protect identity