Aboriginal baby dies while mum in custody


Community leaders in the Northern Territory are demanding answers after a four-month-old baby died while her mother was in police custody.

Police arrested a 21-year-old Aboriginal woman at a home in Katherine, 300 kilometres south of Darwin, on Sunday morning.

She was still in police custody when her baby girl died later that day. The woman also has a five-year-old daughter.

Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Lisa Mumbin told the ABC police should ensure children are safe when they arrest their parent.

"What took place is totally unacceptable," Ms Mumbin told the ABC.

"I really believe there needs to be answers. There needs to be a gathering of leaders and more information and more action coming from the authorities. It's a very serious matter and it's very painful."

NT Police wouldn't comment on the circumstances of the woman's arrest but confirmed they are investigating the child's death.

"The death is not being considered suspicious and police are waiting on results of an autopsy," they said in a statement.

"Police will prepare a report for the Coroner."

The incident comes in the wake of nationwide protests last weekend highlighting the issue of Indigenous incarceration rates and deaths in custody.

Territory Families, the child protection agency, said in a statement that it will assist with the investigation.

"Territory Families' thoughts are with the baby's family at this difficult time. Territory Families will work with and assist police as required while they investigate this matter."

The NT Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne will investigate the matter, including "a review of family history and interactions with services".

Ms Gwynne received a briefing on Wednesday. She described the death as a tragedy.

Originally published as Aboriginal baby dies while mum in custody