|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was established by the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory in October 1987 in response to concern that the deaths in custody of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were too common and public explanation too evasive.
The Commission investigated the deaths of 99 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the custody of police, prison or juvenile detention institutions between January 1980 and May 1989.
In Victoria the Commission did not establish an office. In view of the relatively small number of cases (only six deaths notified to the Commission), it was not necessary to maintain an office. The Commissions investigations were facilitated through the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Police and Emergency Services, AttorneyGenerals, Office of Corrections and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs within the Department of Planning and Environment.
The Commissions activities were to look into:
circumstances of the deaths;
action taken by authorities following the deaths;
underlying causes, including social, cultural and legal factors.
An Interim Report was presented in December 1988. It dealt with law and justice issues including custodial practices and post-death investigations.
In April 1991 the Commission submitted the Final Report featuring profile of the lives of the deceased Aboriginals.
The Royal Commission made a number of recommendations aimed at eliminating the disadvantages suffered by Aboriginal people. These recommendations included proposals in law and justice, youth education, employment, health, housing and infrastructure, land and other areas. The Government responded in taking appropriate measures including increased support for Aboriginal people, police training, etc..
The Victorian Government responded to the Royal Commission with immediate implementation of the Commissions recommendations, which mainly focussed on the justice system.
The Victorian Government has established an Interdepartmental Committee, chaired by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, involving all agencies with responsibility for implementation of the Commissions recommendations.
The work of the Royal Commission took place over almost four years (1987-1991).