source: The Guardian
published: 27 August 2018
Aboriginal leaders have called for an immediate review of the “absolutely unacceptable” numbers of Indigenous deaths in custody and are demanding Australia develop an independent system for monitoring them as a priority.
The social justice commissioner, June Oscar, said exclusive figures published by Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside project on Tuesday were “devastating” and required immediate attention.
Our investigation into 10 years of deaths in custody cases found serious systemic failings, just as the royal commission did almost 30 years ago:
- 147 Indigenous people have died over the decade and 407 have died since the end of the royal commission into deaths in custody in 1991
- Indigenous people are dying in custody from treatable medical conditions, and are much less likely than non-Indigenous people to receive the care they need
- Agencies such as police watch-houses, prisons and hospitals failed to follow all of their own procedures in 34% of cases where Indigenous people died, compared with 21% of cases for non-Indigenous people
- Mental health or cognitive impairment was a factor in 41% of all deaths in custody. But Indigenous people with a diagnosed mental health condition or cognitive impairment, such as a brain injury or foetal alcohol syndrome disorder, received the care they needed in just 53% of cases
- Families are waiting up to three years for coronial inquest findings in some states, with the longest average periods in South Australia and Western Australia
- Of those 147 deaths investigated, 43 were of people who were born after 1991, when the findings of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody were released.