The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody released their report in 1991, with 339 recommendations. Very few recommendations have been implemented since then and Aboriginal people continue to die in custody every year.

Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) (1991)

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was appointed by the Australian Government in October 1987 to study and report upon the underlying social, cultural and legal issues behind the deaths in custody of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, in the light of the high level of such deaths. It examined 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody that occurred between 1980 and 1989. 

The full report was released in 1991 and is available here

A key part of the report was the 339 Recommendations made. 

A review of the implementation of the Report in 2005 is available here.

Only a handful of the 339 Recommendations have been implemented, here are some examples of recommendations that have not been implemented: 

86. a. The use of offensive language in circumstances of interventions initiated by police should not normally be occasion for arrest or charge; 

87. a. All Police Services should adopt and apply the principle of arrest being the sanction of last resort in dealing with offenders; 

161. That police and prison officers should be instructed to immediately seek medical attention if any doubt arises as to a detainee's condition. 

And in Queensland and recently Victoria

79. That, in jurisdictions where drunkenness has not been decriminalised, governments should legislate to abolish the offence of public drunkenness. 

339. That all political leaders and their parties recognise that reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in Australia must be achieved if community division, discord and injustice to Aboriginal people are to be avoided. To this end the Commission recommends that political leaders use their best endeavours to ensure bi-partisan public support for the process of reconciliation and that the urgency and necessity of the process be acknowledged. 


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