Canberra, June 21 (IANS) The Australian government on Wednesday launched a real-time reporting system to hold criminal justice systems accountable for Indigenous deaths in custody.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney announced the launch earlier in the day, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to a report published by the Productivity Commission earlier in June, there were 22 deaths in police custody in 2021-22.
More than 500 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991.
The new system will aggregate information on all deaths in police, prison and youth detention nationally, including custody type, Indigenous status and the sex and age of the deceased.
The measure is part of the government’s historic A$99 million First Nations Justice Package announced in its 2022-23 Budget, to reduce the over-representation of First Nations people in the criminal justice system.
“National real-time reporting of deaths in custody enables greater public transparency of deaths in custody and accountability of all governments for their criminal justice systems,” Dreyfus said.
“The dashboard will record data for every death in custody, not just Indigenous deaths. Consistent with the central finding of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the government is committed to reducing the over-incarceration of First Nations people.”
Minister Burney said that “every death in custody is a heartbreaking tragedy for families and communities and for far too long, there has been a lack of trusted information available when a death in custody occurs”.
“Real-time data on deaths in prisons, police custody and youth detention centres will provide greater transparency and accountability for all governments.
“Having more timely data is a key step towards better-informed early intervention and prevention strategies to reduce First Nations deaths in custody and improve justice outcomes,” she added.