Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Inquiry into the Transportation of Detained Prisoners

ALSWA Submission to the WA Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs – May 2010

This Inquiry examined the implementation of Coroner Hope’s recommendations following the inquest into the tragic and avoidable death of well-respected Aboriginal Elder Mr Ward in January 2008. The inquiry also considered: the feasibility of air transport and video conferencing to reduce the need for transporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples off their country; the reasons for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over representation in the WA criminal justice system; and amendments to the Coroner’s Act.

In this submission, ALSWA reported individually on the progress made on each of the Coroner’s recommendations and made its own recommendations on what improvements could be made to ensure that a death in custody such as Mr Ward’s is avoided. ALSWA also endorsed amendments to the Coroner’s Act requiring government and private sector responses to coronial recommendations.

ALSWA’s key recommendations centred on:

  • police being better trained on the Bail Act and use of detention as a last resort;
  • Justices of the Peace being stripped of judicial powers or receiving significantly improved training;
  • the WA Government properly considering a business case for the purchase and maintenance of an air fleet for the long-haul transportation of prisoners and other service provision;
  • detailed consideration of best practices surrounding the use of video conferencing for judicial purposes; and
  • transparency from government departments and G4S surrounding their policies and practices.

Prisoner Transport May 2010 WA .pdf (3.14Mb)

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ALSWA provides legal advice and representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in WA in Criminal, Family, Civil and Human Rights Law with additional services in community legal education, advocacy and the protection and promotion of human rights .

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