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Are the parties taking action on deaths in custody?

First Nations scorecard - deaths in custody

Last year, an investigation by The Guardian confirmed there were over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody since the Royal Commission.1

The report found many of these deaths were preventable and a shocking number of First Nations people had died because they were denied timely medical care.

An unpaid fine should never warrant a death sentence – and with over 147 deaths in the last decade alone, it's clear the system is broken.

We need to stop locking up First Nations people and children for minor offences.

[1] 'The 147 dead: terrible toll of Indigenous deaths in custody spurs calls for reform', The Guardian, 28 August 2018.
Here's why we rated the parties this way on deaths in custody?

Liberal National Party: Last year, the LNP government did an audit of the recommendations of the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and found that only 64% of the Committees recommendations had been implemented, including only 55% of those recommendations related to keeping people out of prisons. This audit was condemned by First Nations leaders and the Change the Record campaign. (The Guardian, ''Abysmal': Pat Dodson condemns government audit of deaths in custody reform', 26 October 2018)

The Australian Labor Party: In their response to our policy survey, the Australian Labor Party has not committed to auditing the recommendations from the Royal Commission, but have committed to including incarceration targets as part of their Close the Gap 'refresh'. To see their policy survey response head to

The Greens: In their response to the policy survey, the Greens have indicated that they will conduct an audit of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody. To see their full answer to this question, head to

Katter's Australia Party: did not respond to our survey and does not have policies on this issue.

Palmer's United Australia Party: did not respond to our survey and does not have policies on this issue.

We have focussed on those parties or candidates that met all of the following criteria:

  • are running in seats with a significant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander population (higher than 9%)
  • have community support. Parties and candidates were considered to have demonstrated community support if they are currently represented in the Federal Parliament, or are a new contender with significant support in credible published polls.
  • are not excluded because of racist views (for example Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Fraser Anning's National Conservative Party, Rise Up Australia and the Australian Liberty Alliance were all excluded from GetUp's survey process)
First Nations scorecard full To see why we rated the parties this way on these issues, please head to


More than 400 First Nations people have died in custody since 1991.

Yet successive governments have failed to introduce life-saving reforms.

We call on State, Territory and Federal governments to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

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