The Guardian has been running a series over the past 10 days in which journalists examined every coronial known Indigenous death in custody in every jurisdiction since 2008.
It’s a terribly sad tale, and it would be been grinding, gruelling work for those involved. Of course, it would have been nowhere near as hard as it was for the people who died, and for their families, friends and communities.
The centrepiece of the series is the database, which tracks every death over the past 10 years. It offers a lot to think about, but here are a few points.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of New South Wales is more than twice as high as that of Western Australia. Yet why were 43 deaths recorded in WA and 16 in NSW?
There are many reasons, I’m, sure, but part of the answer may lie in the custody notification service, which has been shown to reduce deaths and provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people taken into custody? Why don’t all states have one? The Australian Government is offering to fund one for each state, as long as it follows the NSW/ACT model.
Why are people in custody still dying by suicide?
On another note, congratulations to The Guardian for their efforts. Good journalism takes time, and thought, and care. Opinion is cheap, investigations are not.