Her babies taken, this Indigenous woman died alone in a police cell — the victim of a problem Australia can't seem to fix
Updated 9:45 PM ET, Fri April 9, 2021
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned this story contains images of people who have died.
Brisbane (CNN)Rebecca Maher didn't get to hold her youngest child.
Australian child protection services took him away as soon as he was born, according to Tracey Hanshaw, from Indigenous rights advocacy group Justice Aunties.
He was the third child Maher lost to officials, who intervened as she fought a drug addiction that started in her teens and ended with her death in a police cell at the age of 36. "Although Rebecca's children were not living with her at the time of her death, it is clear to me that she was always a part of their lives and loved them very much," said the coroner's report.
Maher is one of more than 455 Indigenous Australians who have died in prison, police, and youth custody since 1991 when a Royal Commission published its damning report into Aboriginal deaths in custody, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology's latest report.
An unofficial count by the Guardian's Deaths Inside database puts the current total at 474, including five in the past five weeks.