• Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016 cover. (Australian Human Rights Commission Twitter)Source: Australian Human Rights Commission Twitter
25 years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Australian Human Rights Commission has released a report saying the persistence of Aboriginal deaths in custody contributes to a sense that things are getting worse for Indigenous Australians.
7 Dec 2016 - 3:58 PM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2016 - 4:09 PM

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2016 Social Justice and Native Title report released on Wednesday points to ongoing tensions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the justice system.

It follows this year's coronial inquest into the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu in a Western Australia jail and reflects perceptions such deaths remain high.

It also comes after incidents at the Northern Territory's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre that are now being investigated by a royal commission.

"Aboriginal families have also battled inaction by police charged with investigating the violent deaths of their loved ones," the report authored by acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Gillian Triggs and her deputy Robynne Quiggin says.

"The persistence of these issues contributes to a sense in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community that the situation is getting worse, not better."

Among the commission's recommendations is that the federal government follow up meetings with Indigenous leaders with regular consultations to help inform policy and legislation.

It also calls for the adoption of justice targets as a matter of urgency.

What happened to the royal commission's recommendations?

Back in October, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion sat down with Labor senator Pat Dodson to work out which recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody have never been implemented.

Mr Scullion said it would be useful to track each of the 339 recommendations the commission made 25 years ago.

"Who took it over? Is it still being implemented? If not, why not? Because that is going to guide us on a lot of these other processes," he told Sky News.

The royal commission, in which Pat Dodson sat in as commissioner, was launched in 1987 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 99 Indigenous men in prison or in police custody. It reported in 1991.

Recommendations covered reforms to the criminal justice system, as well as improvements to Indigenous disadvantage, the key reason why so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were in prison in the first place.

Recommendations drifted as their implementation had been entrusted to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which was abolished in 2005.

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