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Indigenous Deaths in Custody

Indigenous Deaths in Custody


The report was made possible through the assistance of many people and organisations. The roll-call follows, but up-front I wish to acknowledge the people within my office responsible for preparing Indigenous Deaths in Custody 1989-1996: Paul Castley, Malcolm Langford and Sharon Payne, working directly with Len Wilder. Malcolm Langford deserves special thanks for his work on the methodology, the statistical chapters and the production of the report.

An expert reference committee provided guidance and direction at various stages. The committee comprised: Cheryl Buchanan, Chairperson, National Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee; David McDonald, Senior Criminologist, Australian Institute of Criminology; Kath Mallott, Western Australia Deaths in Custody Watch Committee; Tauto Sansbury, Chair, South Australian Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee; Robin Ayres, Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia; Wayne Chivell, South Australian State Coroner; Associate Professor Sandra Egger, University of New South Wales Law School; Associate Prof Gracelyn Smallwood, University of Southern Queensland; Jenny Tapau, Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Mental Health Corporation; and, Glenda Humes, Manager of the ATSIC Royal Commission Monitoring Unit.

We thank the many Indigenous people and organisations who provided information for the project, in particular the ALS of Western Australia, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA), Northern Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (NT), Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (NSW), Queensland Deaths in Custody Overview Committee and the Western Australia Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.

We thank the Coroners’ Offices in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory, Corrective Services and Police Departments in all States, Ian Armstrong, Deputy Chief Officer, Queensland Criminal Justice Commission, the Corrections Health Service (NSW) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) for providing information to assist the research.

Assistance with the statistics in this report was provided by Sam Egger, Lynne Cockerill, Vicki Dalton at the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Crime Research Centre (WA). Imprisonment data was supplied by Corrections Departments in each jurisdiction: thanks to John Moss (Queensland); Debbie King (Victoria); LM Sulman (New South Wales); Ian Mello (Western Australia); WJ Harvey (Tasmania); Dee-Ann Vahlberg (Northern Territory); and Jane Treadwell (South Australia). Chris Cuneen provided material that he gathered when preparing the forerunner to this report.

We are indebted to the following for editorial comments: Elizabeth McMahon, David Allen, Saku Akmeemana, Tim Game and Liz Keith. David Hannigan prepared the Government Implementation Table. Ray Jackson, Maithri Panagoda, Julie Wager, Dr John Cameron, Elizabeth Rice, Bob Hope, the Hon Justice RP Meagher, Kirsty Gowans and Wes Aird all contributed information. We are particularly grateful to Ginny Muldowney for production work on this report, and thanks to Lynne Watson and Lois Linnell for their vital assistance at the last moment.

Thanks to Paul Blackmore, photojournalist, and Detective Sergeant Ryan, Senior Sergeant Steve McReight and the Mergon Watch-house for the photographs which appear in this Report.

Michael Dodson

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

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cover of report

A Report prepared by the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission