Greens welcome Custody Notification Service for WA, but further progress needed

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Greens (WA) have welcomed a commitment by the State and Federal governments to introduce a 24-hour legal hotline in WA aimed at reducing deaths in custody, which was campaigned for by the Greens.

Under the program, which has been used successfully in NSW since 2000 to drive down deaths in custody, police will be mandated to telephone the Aboriginal Legal Service whenever an Aboriginal person is taken in into custody. 

“I wrote to Premier McGowan a year ago urging him to pursue the introduction of the Custody Notification Service in WA after former Premer Colin Barnett claimed a legal requirement for police to make the call was unnecessary,” Greens WA Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“In 2016, the Federal Government offered to fund Custody Notification Services for states that wanted to roll out the scheme. When this money was offered to WA, former Premier Barnett said that current services were ‘sufficient’.

“Services that fail to drive down the high rate of Aboriginal deaths in custody are not sufficient by any measure. It is great to see WA is finally committing to it.”

Greens Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple MLC said:

“When Miss Dhu died in custody in South Hedland Police Station in 2014 she had no one to turn to. Had she had been listened to, her tragic death would likely have been avoided.

"The commitment to introduce the Custody Notification Service is an important step forward, yet a further important protection for Aboriginal people in custody would be to reinstall regionally-based ALS services that were gutted by the Barnett Government."

Media Contact: Liam Carter – 0449 151 490

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