Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody – 20 Years On

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was established in October 1987 in response to a growing public concern that deaths in custody of Aboriginal people were too common and that explanations were too evasive. The final report, released on 15 April 1991 investigated 99 deaths that occurred between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989 and made 339 recommendations.

20 years later, unnecessary deaths in custody still occur and the incarceration rates continue to rise. Statistics from 2011 showed that in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprised 26% of the total prison population despite making only 2.5% of the total population. The statistics were even more alarming for juveniles (making up to 80% in some jurisdictions) and the recidivism rates are also high (~70% for male adults).

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, in partnership with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement of South Australia and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service presented at the 2011 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York about the findings of the Royal Commission and the advocacy the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services of Australia have been involved in to bring attention to 20 years passing since the Report and the epidemic situation of Indigenous incarceration in Australia and to discuss ideas and options for change, including Justice Reinvestment initiatives.

Handout UNPFII 2011 Side Event Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.pdf 2.73 MB

IPO UNPFII 2011 Press Release 4 – ALS takes Deaths in Custody to the UN.pdf  225 Kb

RCIADIC_Side_Event_Flyer_240511.pdf 384.76 Kb

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