Social And Political Issues In The 1970s

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Discuss why Aboriginal deaths in custody happened and the importance of the Royal commission.

In the late 20th century, Australia?s indigenous peoples were 29 times more likely to be put in jail than other Australians; 20 times more likely to be picked up by the police; less likely to receive bail or have legal representation in the court; and more likely to plead guilty. At the same time, indigenous peoples were less likely to be called up for jury duty than other Australians. The Aboriginal Legal Service (1970-97) provided access to legal advice and assistance for people who could not have otherwise afforded it, but it could do little to overcome injustices indigenous Australians suffered under the Australian legal system.

Government concern for the higher proportion of Aboriginal people in prison began in the 1960s. By the 1970s, there were increasing question from within government and from community groups about whether this meant that Aboriginal people were more likely to commit crime or just more likely to be charged with an offence.

In the 1980s, there was growing concern of the tragically hight number of Aboriginal people who were dying while in police custody. In 1989 the Commonwealth Government ordered a royal commission to investigate these matters and the general issue of the treatment of the Indigenous Australians within the Australian legal system.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) made 339 recommendations when it released its report in 1991. The report indicated that the same percentage of Aboriginal people died in police custody as did non-Aboriginal people. It found that the reason for the high proportions of indigenous peoples in jail was that they were more likely to be imprisoned for relatively minor offences. Its recommendations described the problems indigenous Australians encountered while...