Attorney-General calls deaths in custody a national shame but fails to back action

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says incarceration rates and deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians are a national shame but stopped short of backing Aboriginal senator Pat Dodson’s calls for immediate action on 30-year-old royal commission recommendations, SMH's Lisa Visentin and James Massola report. 

In Dodson's powerful intervention, calling out the inaction of successive governments, he said the the Albanese government has an obligation to act on the findings of the royal commission and make sure that people taken into custody have the care that they need. 

Responding to Dodson’s remarks, Dreyfus pointed to government work already underway on criminal justice reform, including a $99 million First Nations justice package funded in the October budget and working with states and territories on a proposal to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

“I agree with Senator Dodson that 32 years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, rates of incarcerated First Nations adults and youth are unacceptable,” Dreyfus said.

“As I have said before, and I will say again, First Nations incarceration rates and deaths in custody are a national shame.”

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