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Call for action over Indigenous deaths in custody


Australian governments must urgently address the crisis of Indigenous deaths in custody, advocates say on the 30th anniversary of a landmark report on the issue.


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The final report of the four-year Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody was tabled in federal parliament on April 15, 1991.

The inquiry’s 339 recommendations were designed as a road map to address the disproportionate number of Indigenous Australians dying in prisons and police custody.

But almost 500 Indigenous people have died in custody in the 30 years since the report, including five across the country since the start of March this year.

Thousands marched across the country last Saturday to demand action after the recent deaths.

“We are amongst the most incarcerated peoples on earth and have been waiting on real government action for too long,” said Meena Singh, legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre.

The Human Rights Law Centre is part of Change the Record, a First Nations-led justice coalition of 18 organisations calling for six changes to address Indigenous deaths in custody.

These include raising the age of criminal responsibility and repealing punitive bail laws.

The group also wants all the 1991 royal commission recommendations to be fully implemented.

A 2018 Deloitte review found 64 per cent of the royal commission’s 339 recommendations had been implemented. Thirty per cent were partially implemented and six per cent had not been implemented.

-with AAP

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