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My son walked out the front of this property and the police saw him cross the road. One of the eyewitnesses made the comment in the police report that the vehicle, when they spotted young Rex, swerved and made a beeline for him to run him over. After they run him over, from eyewitness accounts he was left on the road for something like 20–30 minutes before any medical aid was given to him. You can’t say that the incident has not brought on any forms of disability. He’s got a psychological one and a mental disability as well as a physical one. Policing like this cannot continually happen. Somewhere there has got to be give and take, and the only give and take right now is our lives, our children, our people, whose lives are expendable. Rex Bellotti on behalf of his son, Rex Bellotti Jr, Noongar man.
Photography by Belinda Mason.
I am the great-uncle of Rex Bellotti Jr. Nearly 5 years later his family are still waiting for answers and compensation – for help with his ongoing medical care. The only thing holding his leg together is his kneecap. He needs reconstruction surgery and if the doctors make one small mistake he will wake up without his leg or his life. When asked about the future Rex Jr said ‘I have to wait.
It’s been more than three years and I haven’t received the insurance and compensation. That’s wrong but I will wait. Then I’ll buy a house with the money. I don’t know how long they’ll take, but hopefully not as long as the time that has already passed since what they did to me.’ So there has been no compensation awarded despite the fact that Rex Jr is now permanently crippled.
The incident has denied this young man the opportunity to make a professional football career or have a normal job. All that Rex Jr and his family have been asking for is truth, justice and healing. Compensation will be central to justice and healing for Rex Jr and his family. As a Noongar man of over 60 years of age, I know racism has been always been around me. As a child I witnessed blatant racism when my family was not allowed to have our hair cut by a barber in the local town. We were only allowed to sit in the front seats of the movie theatre. And be out of the town by 6 pm.
Today it is applied through the system of government. Racism is hard to challenge when it is institutionalised. Two important places where systematic racism is practised are law enforcement and health, and the results are dramatic. The avoidable deaths of Aboriginal people are unacceptable, and would not be tolerated if it was non-Aboriginal people dying. In our resource-rich region, deaths of Aboriginal people are over 6 times the mainstream average for deaths. But it seems that no one in authority cares. The rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal people in WA are testimony to the informal racisim in the policing and legislation systems. No matter which way you look at it, it’s hard to justify our 3 per cent population of WA making up over 50 per cent of the prison population. That’s for Aboriginal women, men and children.
Again it seems that no one cares. The decision-making power is controlled by the descendants of colonisers. While ignorance of Aboriginal worlds is an excuse being bandied around by white services, the ongoing denial of humanitarian support for Rex Jr cannot be excused. You can make all the excuses in the world, but in the end, the fact remains that Rex Jr has not been given the medical and financial support that he needs to heal, and build a decent life as a human being should.
Ambassador, Red Dust Heelers
2013 NAIDOC Person of the Year