Elizabeth Kikkert Welcomes Joint Coronial Inquest into Tragic Death of TJ Dennis


ACT Shadow Minister for Corrections and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Elizabeth Kikkert today welcomed a personal assurance from the NSW and ACT Coroners Courts that they will jointly investigate the death by suicide of Canberra resident Tian-Jarrah (TJ) Dennis in the Silverwater Correctional Complex in New South Wales.

Mr Dennis was previously detained at the Alexander Maconochie Centre in Canberra but was transferred to the NSW prison system in 2021.

Ms Kikkert had planned to move a motion in the Assembly tomorrow asking for the ACT portion of this matter to be referred to a committee for inquiry.

“Today’s assurance of a cross-jurisdictional inquest is a far better outcome,” Ms Kikkert said.

“Mr Dennis’s family had hoped for an independent inquiry into events here, but the ACT Government had said that any inquiry would be the responsibility of New South Wales.

“Without today’s agreement, however, officials there may have lacked authority to consider matters from within the ACT.

“There are important questions surrounding Mr Dennis’s transfer that need to be answered, including why the ACT Government did not ensure that he was placed in a forensic mental health facility despite this having been recommended.

“There are also important questions regarding his time in the ACT prison system. His medical team here advised that he be detained at Dhulwa instead of the AMC because of significant mental health issues, including previous suicide attempts.

“Why was this advice ignored? And did his request for a transfer have anything to do with the shameful incident where he was the subject of a cruel ‘hangman’ game within the prison?

“Mr Dennis’s grieving family and friends deserve answers. Today they and the caring professionals who worked with him here have the assurance they needed that an independent inquiry will look into all aspects of this tragic situation across both jurisdictions,” Ms Kikkert concluded.