Governments will be held more accountable for their criminal justice systems with the launch of a new source of information on Indigenous deaths in custody.
Since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody released its report in 1991 there have been more than 540 First Nations deaths in custody.
While the Australian Institute of Criminology has monitored deaths in custody since 1992, until now there has been no real-time reporting.
“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,” Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Wednesday.
The dashboard will provide up‑to-date information on all deaths occurring in police and prison custody as well as in youth detention and be monitored by the AIC.
It will provide aggregate information on all deaths in custody at the national level, including custody type (police or prison), Indigenous status (including unknown), and sex and age group of the deceased.
Information will be supplied to the AIC by state and territory police and prison authorities through death notification forms and the dashboard will be updated as the information is received.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said every death in custody is a “heartbreaking tragedy for families and communities”.
“For far too long there has been a lack of trusted information available when a death in custody occurs,” she said.
“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.”