Family and advocates call for charges to be laid against NSW Police officers who arrested First Nations teen experiencing anxiety attack

Last Updated on 31/03/2021 by National Justice Project

Yarraka Bayles, mother of the young woman who was thrown to the ground by police while trying to assist her partner during an anxiety attack, has blasted NSW Police officers’ treatment of her daughter and her daughter’s partner. Yarraka has called for the officers involved to be charged and disciplined for their actions.

“My daughter was only trying to help her partner when NSW Police officers laid their hands on her and threw her to the ground by her collar. She was simply assisting her partner manage her anxiety attack and did nothing to be treated so appallingly.” 

“The video footage shows clearly that my daughter’s partner was in need of care. That’s what my daughter was doing when NSW Police escalated the situation by using force against a person who was not resisting arrest.”

“Even the bystanders who filmed the incident were repeatedly telling NSW Police officers to use de-escalation techniques to resolve the situation. Any person who looks at that footage would see that there was absolutely no basis for using force against my daughter and her partner.”

Lawyers representing Yarraka Bayles’ daughter have said that the incident represents yet another shocking example of the need to implement systemic reforms in NSW Police to stop over-policing of First Nations people. George Newhouse, Principal Solicitor and Director of the National Justice Project, has said: 

“This awful footage has come to light in the lead up to the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into First Nations Deaths in Custody, which made 339 recommendations to avoid situations like this that place people in a dangerous and escalating situation.”

“Recommendation 133(a) of the Royal Commission called for police to undertake training to know when someone is in distress from their presence. As with the whole Royal Commission report, this recommendation has been ignored for 30 years.” 

“What this video footage shows is that police officers should not be first responders to mental health crises. Instead of receiving compassionate care and medical attention, these two young women were handcuffed, thrown aside, arrested, and searched.” 

“We are calling on the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) and the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to investigate the circumstances of this incident. The women did nothing wrong and in our opinion the officers conduct should be reviewed to determine whether a crime has been committed.” 

For further comment from National Justice Project Principal Solicitor, George Newhouse, please contact: