An inquest into the deaths of three people during forced COVID quarantine at Howard Springs will examine the legality of their detention and the adequacy of their care.
David Hardy, 77, Raylene Dick, 50, and Karen Bading, 56, were all classified as deaths in custody.
The trio had been diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID and died in the nation’s largest quarantine facility in Darwin during the Omicron wave between November 2021 and January 2022.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
Hardy was the only international traveller, while Dick and Bading were detained from majority Indigenous communities within the NT.
Counsel assisting the coroner Patrick Coleridge said issues to do with their care during their time in the Centre for National Resilience (CNR) would be examined in the inquest.
“What was the quality of care … were they adequate, was it easy for someone in a position of a detained person to access services, were services easier to access for some?” he asked during a directions hearing on Friday.
A coroner will investigate the deaths of three people while quarantined at Howard Springs. Credit: AAP
Coleridge indicated that the legality of their detention would also be probed.
“In what circumstances were they taken into the facility, why were they detained, did it occur with their consent (and) how was their consent obtained?” Coleridge asked.
“That is a very, very broad brush overview of the issues likely to arise, and it seems everyone will bring a different perspective to the table.”
NT Coroner Elisabeth Armitage said she suspected the term “death in custody” would be debated, as well as the adequacy and access to care.
The Howard Springs facility was used to quarantine repatriated Australians suspected of contracting COVID, including Hardy.
However, it was also used to detain members of the local community with suspected COVID under orders from the chief health officer.
Coleridge said while the trio had “individual and independent stories”, there would be “common features and lessons to learn from the circumstances in which they died”.
Family members of all three deceased dialled into the court hearing as the coroner expressed her condolences.
“If there’s anything special that you would like to contribute or particular cultural matters that you would like us to address or incorporate into the inquest, please let us know,” she said.
The inquest is set down for two weeks of hearings from April 8 next year.
First Nations people seeking mental health support can contact Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line 13YARN on 13 92 76 or 13yarn.org.au. or connect with Aboriginal Counselling Services on 0410 539 905.
New COVID vaccines to be available in Australia in weeks
WA turns back to masks in hospitals to deal with COVID surge
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.