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Deaths in Custody Audit: Governments had decades to act  

The Government has tabled their audit of the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, complying with an order for the production of documents from the Australian Greens passed by the Senate.

“Successive Governments have had almost thirty years to get this right, but we now see that incarceration rates have in fact doubled since the completion of the Royal Commission, Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations issues said today.

“Imprisonment is not a solution to poverty and social issues and one of the key Royal Commission recommendations was imprisonment at last resort.

“According to the Government’s own report, some of the key areas that have not been implemented relate to the cycle of offending, self-determination and non custodial approaches.

“We keep hearing about a Government that is going to listen to and put First Nations people at the front of decision making, but when is this actually going to happen?

“Self-determination is key to addressing disadvantage and intergenerational trauma for First Nations peoples and some of the underlying causes relating to interactions with the justice system in the first place.

“The Government needs to recognise that imprisonment should be a last resort. 407 First Nations people have died in custody since the Royal Commission and there has been a number of deaths since the Guardian released the “deaths inside” database in August.

“In my home state of WA we have the highest rates of First Nations deaths in custody. I have written to Premier McGowan asking for him to confirm that a custody notification service will be in place by the end of the year as he has committed to.

“We need urgent action on justice targets and reinvestment. These are not new ideas, they just need to be acted on.

“The Commonwealth needs to take the lead and work with the states – it can no longer be a matter of shifting blame between levels of Government.

“I will be following up with Minister Scullion at Estimates this Friday to establish what his plans are for ensuring that we address the report itself and these issues.

Media Contact:

Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180

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