'They failed him': family protest in Dubbo

Stephanie GardinerAAP
The family of Ricky Hampson Jr, known as Dougie, want a coronial inquest into his death.
Camera IconThe family of Ricky Hampson Jr, known as Dougie, want a coronial inquest into his death. Credit: AAP

Standing in the shadow of Dubbo hospital, Ricky Hampson Sr's voice begins to crack when remembering his son.

"His spirit is inside me today," Mr Hampson Sr said, his voice trembling.

Ricky Hampson Jr - better known as Dougie, a 36-year-old Kamilaroi-Dunghutti man and father of eight - died after being discharged from Dubbo hospital in August.

Family members held a peaceful protest at the hospital in western NSW on Monday, calling for a coronial inquest into his death.

Dougie went to the hospital with "10 out of 10" pain after hearing a "popping sound" and feeling a tearing sensation in his stomach while walking on the street, Mr Hampson Sr said.

Dougie was sedated, given painkillers and sent home. He died less than 24 hours later, in the early hours of August 16, from perforated duodenal ulcers.

Mr Hampson Sr said his son did not receive life-saving treatment because he was Indigenous and identified himself to staff as a recreational cannabis user.

"As Aboriginal people, our feelings are, when we present to the hospital and there's one mention of drugs, they (assume) it's withdrawals," he said.

"He came here for help. He trusted them, he was polite to them, and they've just failed him."

The family want Dougie's story and his face to be seen and heard across Australia to ensure Indigenous people receive proper care in the health system.

"It needs to be changed across the board, not just western NSW, not just in NSW. It's everywhere."

A group of about 30 peaceful protesters marched outside the hospital's emergency department, chanting, carrying signs and remembering Dougie.

Dougie's sister Anita Chatfield said the protest was a way to grieve, as many family members had been separated by COVID-19 restrictions when he died.

"It's been numb, and now that we're here in front of the hospital, it all feels so real," Ms Chatfield said.

"There are just too many ... people being lost in this system, both black and white. I believe there is systemic racism within ... I've dealt with all of that stuff first hand."

In a statement, Western NSW Health offered their condolences to Dougie's family, and said the department would assist in the coronial process.

Ms Chatfield said she would always remember Dougie playing the song Stand By Me.

"Douglas was a very humble man. He never, ever looked down on anybody unless he was helping them up," she said.

"He'd just play that song ... because he'd help everybody, no matter what you looked like or their colour.

"You help someone when they're down. My brother was down, but they couldn't help him."

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