Inquest Into Death Of Pregnant Indigenous Mum Begins
Naomi Williams, 27 years old and six months pregnant, went to hospital for help early on New Year's Day in 2016.
Lawyers say she was given an ice block, some Panadol, and quickly sent home.
Within hours, she and her unborn baby were dead.
Tumut District Hospital's treatment of Williams, a Wiradjuri woman, is the centre of a coronial inquest that began on Monday.
Human rights lawyer and adjunct professor George Newhouse is acting on her family's behalf, and said she was critically ill and heavily pregnant when she was sent home after just 34 minutes in hospital. He claimed she was given just an ice block and a few pain relief tablets.
“The circumstances surrounding Naomi’s death have been devastating for her family and left the lives of all who knew and loved her shattered,” Newhouse said in a statement.
“Naomi had been unwell for some time, and attended Tumut Hospital on many occasions before she passed away. Her death raises questions about the standard of care at the hospital and whether prejudice may have played a part in her death."
The inquest began at Gundagai Local Court on Monday, and will run all week. Nurses gave testimony on Monday, and Naomi's mother Sharon will give evidence on Friday.
It is expected the inquest will continue in Sydney in 2019.
Outside court on Monday, Williams' family said they wanted answers.
"We only want what is fair for everyone. That is to be treated with respect, be heard," said Sue Bulger, CEO of the regional land council.
"To be sent away without proper diagnosis is unfair, and we just want the same for all of our people, for anyone. Doesn't matter what your ethnicity, you have that right to be respected as a person."
One of Naomi's friends, Talae Bulger told media they wanted to find out what happened.
"We're not here to lay any blame, or look to condemn anybody. We're here to remember Naomi, remember a baby, and get some answers," she said.
In a statement, Newhouse said he hoped the inquest may lead to institutional change.
“Naomi’s mum, Sharon, lost her only child and grandchild that day; her partner lost the love of his life and their unborn baby. They don’t want Naomi’s death to be in vain," he said.
"They want lessons to be learned and reforms to be made to the health care system."