: 20th Anniversary of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (15th April 2011)

Apr 2011

VALS marks the anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) out of respect to:

  • the individuals whose deaths were investigated as part of the RCIADIC and their family, friends and community;
  • community members who invested a of time and effort into the commission.

VALS acknowledges the RCIADIC report as a cruicial document that is still relevant 20 years on. VALS continues to use the RCIADIC as an advocacy tool to advance the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

VALS, as part of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services Forum (NATSILS), endorsed the attached media statement marking NATSILS ‘Call to a Fair Go.’

The NATSILS are alarmed by the ongoing deaths in custody and say it is crucial for all 339 RCIADIC recommendations to be implemented immediately. National statistics show that in the land of the ‘fair go’ an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is 14 times more likely to be incarcerated than a non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

Addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody is a crucial step in achieving the aims of the RCIADIC, yet there continues to be an overwhelming lack of effective policies aimed at diverting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the criminal justice system.


NATSILS are currently involved in several projects that would greatly assist governments in complying with its recommended actions, such as:

  • Contributing to a special edition of the Australian Indigenous Law Review dedicated to the RCIADIC and where it sits today;
  • The Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) is leading a National Survey on the implementation of RCIADIC recommendations in all States and Territories;
  • Ongoing involvement in Inquest Alliance, an alliance formed by numerous NGOs and individual advocates across Australia dedicated to national coronial reform and the establishment of a National Inquest Clearing House; and

By continuing to undertake such work the NATSILS hope to further engage with relevant stakeholders, including governments, to collaboratively work towards achieving the full implementation of RCIADIC recommendations and the prevention of further needless deaths in custody.