This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

The Cat Empire's Felix Riebl New Song Focuses On Ms Dhu's Death In Custody

'Racism so deep, it's become institutionalised.'

Cat Empire vocalist Felix Riebl has written an emotive protest song about the death in custody of Indigenous woman Ms Dhu, aiming to raise greater awareness about her death.

Riebl has produced the song alongside the Marilay singers from the Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir. Her relatives are hoping it will put renewed attention on the case.

The song tells the story of Ms Dhu, whose name isn't used for cultural reasons, who died in custody two days after she was locked up at South Hedland Police Station in Western Australia over unpaid fines.

"Now they're white washing away evidence. Will we ever see a cop locked up over negligence? Will we ever see the rock turned up on ignorance? Will ever see a government who first listens?" the song poignantly asks the listener.

Ms Dhu was just 22 years old when she died from staphylococcal septicaemia and pneumonia after an infection from her fractured ribs spread to her lungs.

During the inquest some police testified that they thought Ms Dhu was faking the illness and was coming down off drugs.

A coroner found in December that the death of Ms Dhu could have been prevented if she'd been given antibiotics, while police acted both unprofessionally and inhumanely.

"You realise how dreadful the situation was, how unjust and how wrong on so many different levels, that this poor woman was let down every step of the way and shouldn't be dead now," Riebl told NITV news.

According to SBS News Riebl has been in contact with Ms Dhu's family as he wanted to ensure that they had the final approval over the content in the song.

"We want this song to stand alone as a purely community-based incentive and all proceeds will go to the family. It's been an incredibly powerful experience," he said.

Riebl wants the song to not only provide greater awareness over what happened to Ms Dhu but also shed light on the treatment of Indigenous Australians by the legal system.

"We are deliberately bringing out this song in 2017 to put the tragedy of Ms Dhu back in people's minds," Riebl said.

Ms Dhu's uncle Shaun Harris has welcomed the release of the song, saying it's the icing on the cake for them at the moment, the ABC reports.

"I hope this song will go viral. A lot of people are gonna fall in love with it. It will go viral to some extent," Harris said.

The song aims to remind people of what happened to Ms Dhu while also raising awareness about the issue at large, acting as a catalyst for change where it is so desperately needed.

"Ms Dhu died too young aged 22, when they carried her like a dead kangaroo and we wish that it wasn't true but it is, so the next question is what are gonna do?" the song ends.


Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact