Indigenous prisoners need culturally-appropriate healthcare given by Aboriginal medical services to prevent more needless deaths in custody, advocates warn.
The advice comes after Western Australian coroner Rosalinda Fogliani recently found that Aboriginal man Mr Yeeda's death at the West Kimberley Regional Prison in 2018 was preventable.
The 19-year-old Miriuwung and Gajerrong man died from rheumatic heart disease complications after the prison's medical officer's referral for him to see a cardiologist was not progressed.
Advocates welcomed Ms Fogliani's recommendation for the WA Department of Justice and WA Country Health to better share information and tracking on inmate healthcare.
But they say it does not go far enough and more needs to be done to improve healthcare outcomes for Indigenous Australians in prison.
"The Coroner has failed to address the systemic racism in WA's justice and healthcare systems which led to Mr Yeeda's death," National Justice Project director George Newhouse said on Wednesday.
"Unless culturally-appropriate healthcare delivered by Aboriginal medical services is provided to prisoners, we will see more needless deaths like that of Mr Yeeda."
Mr Yeeda's mother Marlene Carlton said her son was six weeks away from being released.
"He wanted to do his time so he could come out and live with his dad on a station and work with horses," she said.
Ms Carlton said corrective services failed to adequately communicate with the family after Mr Yeeda's condition worsened.
"They need people in the prison who understand Indigenous culture and health. He should never have died," she said.
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives was critical of prison staff saying they should have followed national protocols for rheumatic heart disease management.
"These guidelines are easily accessible. The lack of treatment and follow-through reveal a negligent treatment of Mr Yeeda," board member Juanita Sherwood said.
"Prison and health staff should have known better because we all know it's a big issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that needs to be managed well."
Rheumatic heart disease is permanent heart damage that can cause heart failure, death and disability.
It has almost been eradicated in developing nations but Australia continues to have some of the highest rates of the disease in the world, almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Mr Yeeda, who was serving a 14 month prison term, was diagnosed as needing heart valve replacement surgery in 2014 after he developed severe aortic valve regurgitation.
Over time that need became more urgent and his death may have been prevented with surgery, Ms Fogliani said in her findings released on July 20.
Mr Yeeda's first name was withheld at the request of his family.
Australian Associated Press