The Senate has heard the federal government does not keep consolidated data on Aboriginal deaths in custody, with information and responsibility spread across several departments.
The National Indigenous Australians agency said it relies on data from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) as well as “monitoring media reports”, but that tracking and reporting on deaths was the responsibility of the Home Affairs department.
The most recent official data compiled by the AIC, from 2019 shows that 455 Aboriginal people have died in custody since the 1991 Royal Commission. NIAA officials were unable to provide an updated figure.
There followed a tense exchange between Labor senator Pat Dodson and Senator Amanda Stoker representing the government, after Dodson expressed frustration at the perceived lack of federal response to the numbers of Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Stoker said: “We know there is more to do to improve the outcomes for Indigenous people in…