Tanya Day family recognised for law change advocacy

30th May 2022

The family of Tanya Day who successfully advocated for the decriminalisation of public drunkenness in Victoria has belatedly received the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) 2021 Victorian Civil Justice Award.

The 2021 Award was not able to be presented last year as the presentation event had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Award was finally presented to Apryl Day at the ALA Victorian Conference last week.

Victorian ALA President Jeremy King said that the Day family’s work to change the law after the tragedy of Tanya Day’s death showed great courage and determination.

“This family experienced a shocking loss when Tanya Day died in police custody,” said Mr King.  “However, they went on to tirelessly lobby the Government to ensure that the public drunkenness offence, which had led to Ms Day being in custody, was abolished in Victoria.”

Ms Apryl Day has subsequently established the Dhadjowa Foundation to provide coordinated support to other families who have experienced the death of a family member in police custody.   

“Evidence shows that the criminalisation of public drunkenness discriminates against vulnerable people, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues,” said Mr King. “The Day family’s work to abolish this offence made a significant contribution to the pursuit of justice in Victoria.

“In addition, the establishment of the Dhadjowa Foundation is a very important achievement. It brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who have experienced the very distressing loss of a family member in custody and provides culturally appropriate support.

“The Day family are very worthy recipients of the Civil Justice Award.”

The annual ALA Civil Justice Award recognises individuals or organisations that have displayed outstanding commitment to advancing social justice in Australia. Previous winners of the Victorian award include the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women, thalidomide survivor Lynette Rowe and refugee advocate David Manne.

Tags: Victoria Civil Justice Award