The 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was marked on Thursday.

The rate of our First Nations people entering custody has almost doubled and over 470 have died in custody since the royal commission handed down its report in 1991.

With five deaths happening in just the past six weeks, advocates continue to push for the Royal Commission’s 339 recommendations to be implemented in their entirety.

A review commissioned by the Government in 2017 found that 78 per cent of the recommendations have been fully or mostly implemented, 16 per cent partially and 6 per cent not at all.

Many justice campaigners dispute the reports findings saying the number of recommendations that have been implemented is much lower.

Moving forward, Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt says addressing health and education outcomes will help.

Labor Senator Pat Dodson says that is not enough.

Senator Dodson was a commissioner for the the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and says he never thought in his “wildest dreams” that the issue would be considered a “national crisis” 30 years on.

He says he believed at the time that the issue would be resolved.

Nothing much has changed: Thorpe

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe says 30-years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody nothing much has changed.

On April 15, 1991, the Royal Commission handed down its final report and made 339 recommendations to end Black deaths in custody, which according to a 2018 Deloitte review, 64 per cent had already been implemented.

But, Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman, senator Thorpe says those numbers are unreliable and very few, if any of those recommendations have been fully implemented.

She said little good has come from the Royal Commission, given our people are still dying at the hands of the system.

The families of fifteen First Nations people who have died in custody are demanding prime minister Scott Morrison meet with them face to face on the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Senator Thorpe says the Prime Minister needs to step-up and meet with the families urgently.

National Leadership Needed

The Law Council of Australia says it’s an international embarrassment that ten-year-old children are still being locked up in this country.

The imprisonment of children as young as 10 has been a major criticism of justice in Australia and many advocates have campaigned fiercely to have the age of criminal responsibility raised to 14 years old.

In July 2020, a Council of Attorneys-General meeting decided not to raise the age and has left it to states and territories to decide.

President of the Law Council of Australia, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC says there needs to be national leadership on raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino says the states and federal government are still actively discussing raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Raising the age from ten to 14 was one of the recommendations handed down 30 years in the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report, but a move to do so was defeated in parliament last year. 

Australia has come under international scrutiny for its lack of action in raising the age, with more than 30 member countries of the UN calling on Australia to take action.

Acting premier James Merlino says leaders are not ignoring the issue.