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Australia Victoria reports Aboriginal death in custody, legal service says justice system needs 'urgent' reforms

06:47  11 march  2021
06:47  11 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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An Aboriginal man died in custody at Victoria's largest prison on the weekend, the state government confirmed today.

Corrections Victoria, the government unit responsible for the state's prisons, said the man died at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre on March 7.

"As the prisoner was an Aboriginal man, the Aboriginal Justice Caucus was advised on the day and we continue to work closely with them and the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria," Corrections Victoria said in a statement.

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"The family of the man were notified with our condolences, and a smoking ceremony is being arranged.

"We recognise that all deaths in custody have impacts on family members, friends, corrections staff and the Aboriginal community, and we're working to ensure they are provided with the support they need."

The man is the third Aboriginal person who has died in custody in Australia this month.

Last week, two Indigenous Australians died in custody in Sydney, but their deaths were only revealed during New South Wales budget estimates on Tuesday.

Death highlights 'urgent need' for reforms

Victoria's Justice Department has not released any other information about the man, such as his age or the sentence he was serving.

The Coroner will formally determine the cause of death.

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The chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS), Nerita Waight, said the man's death highlighted the "urgent need for sweeping reforms to the justice system".

"Our people are grossly overrepresented in the criminal legal system and in prisons," she said in a statement.

"We have the solutions ready for government. We just need them to listen and act."

The VALS said the death would be the first to be dealt with under new Coroners Court protocols for investigating Indigenous deaths in custody.

Under the new rules, introduced last September, a hearing to confirm an investigator and set a due date for the Coroner's brief must take place within 28 days of the death.

The legal service has also called on the Victorian government to repeal its "draconian" bail laws, increase funding for Aboriginal community organisations, and fully implement any outstanding recommendations from the the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

More than 450 Aboriginal people have died in custody since the commission's final report was published 30 years ago, the VALS said.

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usr: 3
This is interesting!