Family of Dougie Hampson call on NSW Attorney-General to demand inquest

Last Updated on 04/08/2022 by National Justice Project

The father and mother of a man who died of perforated ulcers after being sent home from Dubbo Hospital in 2021 are calling on the NSW Attorney-General to intervene and demand an inquest into their son’s death.

In August 2021, 36-year-old Ricky “Dougie” Hampson Jr, a proud Kamilaroi/Dunghutti man, presented to Dubbo Hospital with severe stomach pain, a highly elevated heart rate and a ‘popping’ and ‘tearing’ sensation in his stomach. 

Rather than being properly examined and given a scan or X-ray, the father of 8 children was sedated, given a cocktail of opioids and painkillers, monitored, discharged, and told by hospital staff to go home and simply ‘drink water’. 

Within hours, Dougie was pronounced dead. He would have survived had he been examined properly.

Two perforated ulcers had torn his stomach lining and bowel wall. He also tested positive for COVID while in hospital care, which he was never informed of. 

Now, after almost a year of waiting for answers as to why prejudice led to their son’s preventable death. Dougie’s father, Ricky Hampson Snr, and mother, Lydia Chatfield are calling on the NSW Attorney-General to demand a coronial inquest into their son’s death to examine why Dougie was denied appropriate treatment and discharged from Dubbo Hospital. 

Their petition addressed to the NSW Attorney General and NSW Coroner, demanding accountability and urgent changes to the way Aboriginal people are treated in the NSW health system, has quickly gathered pace. As of today, over 12,600 signatories have joined the family in calling for an inquest into their son’s tragic, avoidable death. 

“Dougie was only 36-year-old and leaves behind a loving family who miss him every day,” said Ricky Hampson Snr. “He was a family man and what he loved most was spending time with his children and grandson. He was the light of any celebration – he was the one who made everyone laugh. We are in a world of darkness now that he isn’t around.” 

“It beggars belief that in 2022, in a country like Australia, someone as young as my son could be denied proper care at a hospital and subsequently die from a ruptured stomach ulcer. But, unfortunately, this is a shockingly common thread among my community when they go through the NSW health system.”

In 2021, an inquest into the death of 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman Naomi Williams at Tumut Hospital concluded that implicit bias had led to the hospital’s clear and ongoing inadequacies in her care.  

The CEO of the National Justice Project and UTS and Macquarie University Adjunct ProfessorGeorge Newhouse, who is legally representing Mr Hampson Snr and Ms Chatfield, said that the inquest into Naomi Williams’ death had established that prejudice and bias against Aboriginal people in the health system can harm or even kill.

“Our governments already know this is a real issue – Dougie’s parents are calling for a raft of urgent reforms, including the immediate adoption of a professional standard that requires medical practitioners to provide culturally safe care to Indigenous patients, and a requirement for hospitals to employ 24-hour Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers that visit patients in emergency care,” said Professor Newhouse. 

Professor of Indigenous Health in the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Public Health, Chelsea Watego said: “Successive National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plans have had as their vision a health system free of racism, however we have yet to see a willingness to examine the ways in which it is operating upon the lives and deaths of our people seeking health care.”

“Mr Hampson deserved better and so too does his family. It is not only necessary that an inquest be granted, but that it considers explicitly the role of racial stereotyping in Mr Hampson’s tragic death. Any commitment to a health system free of racism rings hollow in the face of refusals to reckon with how it is working in this moment,” said Professor Watego who is a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman and has over two decades of experience working in Indigenous health. 

Mr Hampson Snr said: “Unless the health professionals who failed my son are held accountable, Aboriginal people will keep dying from completely preventable causes.”

No parent should outlive their child. We hope that real change is implemented – I don’t want a single more person in our community to be failed and die due to gross failures of the health system.”