The proposal was distributed to authorities with oversight as well as those with direct coercive powers across Australia.
These included Coroners, the Australian Institute of Criminology, the National Coronial Information System, Attorneys-General, Governors, Health, Police and Corrective Services Commissioners.
Responses have been varied, and will be published in detail shortly. The Coroners were generally supportive. In WA, the Health Department is referring it to its special Committee to consider. Others resisted going outside of their area of direct obligation, despite their clear need to do so.
The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) responded to our proposal. It is funded to work closely with the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to deal with Coronial information. We were disappointed with the response we received from the NCIS, and their lack of interest in improving the current system. They said they rejected the proposal and used spurious reasons. They said they already have a database, have no mandate to monitor court processes or outcomes, and don’t form part of the coronial process.
Those reasons are ill-considered responses to our proposal. Their resistance demonstrates a systemic failure to protect the lives of those in custody. It is evident that the current system is not working as it should. The NCIS fails its funded function of preventing death and injury, and has no interest in doing so. See their letter and our response. We have proposed that its Board have a majority of members who represent people who are directly affected by deaths or injuries, rather than represent authorities and have a conflict of interest.
We will continue to lobby authorities for structural change, to prevent deaths in custody caused by the use of unsafe practices of restraint, as a legacy to the memory of David Dungay.