Police get gongs, Wotten faces jail

POLICE forced to run for their lives as a mob – enraged by the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee – burnt down the Palm Island watchhouse, barracks and court will receive bravery awards. On the other side of the card, the guy charged with inciting the riots has been found guilty;
The conviction of Wotton, who faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on November 7, is expected to be appealed and signals the end of the prosecution cases against the rioters.
Justice prevails.


  • I worked in Townsville for seven years on and off, and had colleagues (teachers) on Palm. Whilst I never set foot on the island, my friends often traveled to the mainland on the weekend, and we’d socialise. I learned a bit about Palm during this time. We’d also host indigenous kids from Palm at my school occasionally.

    It doesn’t matter which way you look at this episode – it is simply a tragedy. Its victims include Wotton, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, all the police on the island at the time, and obviously Mulrunji Doomadgee.

    There are no heroes or villains, despite the media’s attempt to create them, just people who are victims of 200 years of failed policies by all sides of government. The people tasked with supporting this community (particularly public servants such as police, teachers and nurses) have never been given the level of support required to do the job asked of them. The rate of staff turnover across the board is a fair indication. For teachers, police and nurses, it’s burnout central.

    In the final analysis, I’d guess that few involved, police or islanders, really want to live on Palm, a situation that has existed since it became a dumping ground for people from a wide range of differing tribal backgrounds who had nothing except their race in common.

    It’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful part of North Queensland.

  • I agree with you. I can’t help think of Palm Island as an outstation and I’m against Australians being obliged to live in these circumstances. Exposure to normal society would give both the kids and the adults aspirations and encourage them to improve their lot. Being locked in a place like Palm does neither and tends to reinforces failure.