“To monitor and work to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody”
The Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody began in 1987, and continued until the release of its final report in 1991. It followed a spate of violent and untimely deaths in custody, such as that of the 16-year-old boy John Pat in a police cell in Roebourne WA after a fight with five off duty police officers in 1983.
There were 339 recommendations made by the Commissioners, many dealing with the custodial issues leading to harm or death, but a large number also addressing wider societal and cultural issues, most of which still remain as issues and challenges faced today.
The DICWC in WA was set up by a Coalition of concerned parties in 1993. This included various Church bodies and representatives, unions, lawyers, politicians, Aboriginal organisations, other NGOs, family members related to people who had died in custody, as well as other prominent individuals such as Judge Hal Jackson; the late Jack Davis; and the late Sir Ronald Wilson.
Its specific aim is to monitor and work to ensure the effective implementation of the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody, and during the 1990s it was largely successful in keeping these issues on the agenda, and in helping to realise some specific reforms within the Police Department, the Justice system, and most importantly some change in the culture and attitudes within these systems.
While the Royal Commission was a national inquiry, it recommended Deaths In Custody Watch Committees be set up in each state. The DICWC of WA has focused and worked almost exclusively on WA issues, especially given that this State has some of the worst statistics in regard to these issues.
WA continues to incarcerate people at a rate far higher than any other state, and in particular has a huge over-representation of Aboriginal prisoners, with the result that they make up just over 40 percent of deaths in custody.
"The DICWC (WA) Inc will continue to monitor and work to see the effective implementation of the 339 recommendations into the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1991"
The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee (WA) Inc is committed to the cause of Justice and Human rights for people when incarcerated and will be campaigning hard in the coming year for improved conditions for both prisoners and custodial staff.