Australian Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: Black death White Hands

Essay by jessi_bHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 2006

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The issues surrounding Australian 'Aboriginal deaths in Custody' is a major concern to all people living within a society that chooses to consider themselves open-minded to cultural awareness, tolerance and a willingness to embrace the concepts of Reconciliation. Eighteen years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) was announced, and fourteen years after it made its report, deaths in custody are still far too many. Governments around the nation are failing to implement key recommendations despite ongoing warnings and protests from Aboriginal organizations and their supporters.

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was announced in 1987 after a documented 7 black deaths in custody in only 6 weeks. A Royal Commission is a major government inquiry into an issue effecting society to a high degree. Governments are usually unlikely to enter into a Royal Commission, as they cannot be stopped once started until there is a conclusion and a final report is published.

So its easy to see that only matters of great importance and controversy (and regularly the treatment of minorities) get to see such attention. They have been criticised as being little more than a way to end public criticism of government inaction without actually doing anything; this is a very apt description of the Royal Commission of 1987-91. They usually result in a massive report of findings and recommendations and left for another government to act upon. The RCIADIC is no exception. It was run from 1987 and the final report was released in May 1991 to find out why so many Aboriginals were dying in prison. It examined exactly 99 deaths (between 1980 and 1989), made 339 recommendations and promised $400 million dollars over the following 5 years. Chaired by J. H. Muirhead (1987-89) and E. F. Johnston (1989-91).

In July...