Thirty years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, there’s growing anger that key recommendations for change to health and justice systems are ‘gathering dust’ on the nation’s political shelves.
Since the inquiry, more than 470 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children have died in custodial settings and the number keeps rising.
The anniversary sparked a call for urgent action from some of the families of those who have died, including for independent investigation of all deaths in custody.
Among the key issues highlighted by community leaders are the impact of racism throughout the criminal justice system, the need to improve health services in jails – including palliative care, a lack of support for families involved in coronial hearings, and the ongoing battle to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years.
Croakey Voices takes a look at these concerns and how they are exacerbated in rural, regional and remote settings, where there is often limited access to health services, including cultural rehabilitation programs.
Cate Carrigan spoke to:
- Dr Megan Williams: Research Lead and Assistant Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence at the University of Sydney, member of the Australian Institute of Health.
- Jeffery Amatto: Founder ‘More Cultural Rehabs, Less Jails’ program and co-founder Brothers 4 Recovery Alcohol and Drug Awareness, based in Wellington in central west New South Wales.
- Dr Peter Malouf: Wakka Wakka and Wuli Wuli man and executive director of operations at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW.
Thanks for didgeridoo track to Wiradjuri man Mark Williams who performs under the company name of Jali Yarabil, which means ‘tree song’ in Yugambeh, on whose lands he lives, works and raises his family.
The podcast is part of Croakey’s #RuralHealthJustice series, which is putting a sustained focus on rural, regional and remote health issues and marking the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and its many undelivered recommendations for the justice and health systems.
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The Commonwealth, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has provided funding for the Croakey Health Media #RuralHealthJustice series through the Public Interest News Gathering Program (PING) grant program.
The PING Program was set up in 2020 to support regional broadcasters and publishers to maintain or increase their production and distribution of public interest journalism in regional Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This podcast was also supported by donations to our public interest journalism funding pool.