Ms Dhu 1b - RCIADIC


The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

In 1987 Aunty Helen Ulli Corbett addressed the United Nations Working Group of Indigenous Peoples on behalf of the CDBR which gave the campaign International exposure. Shortly after, Lloyd Boney died in a police cell in Brewarrina, NSW. Following the UN presentation, days after Lloyd Boney’s death and in the lead-up to the 1988 Bicentenary celebrations (and protests), the RCIADIC was announced.

The final report of the RCIADIC was published in 1991, the year before Ms Dhu was born. One of the key findings of the RCIADIC was that Aboriginal people were more likely to die in custody because they were more likely to be placed in custody. The report’s recommendations considered ways to reduce the disproportionate incarceration rates of First Nations people and create safer custodial environments. Over 25 years later, however, the majority of recommendations have not been implemented and Aboriginal people, particularly Aboriginal women, continue to experience hyper-incarceration.



‘The history of the national campaign demanding a Federal Royal Commission into the Aboriginal deaths in custody was coordinated by Aboriginal / Islander families who have had a relative die in prison or police custody and their supporters. They are a living testimony of what united strength is all about. This Royal Commission is one of the most recent and greatest achievements of our people. We have turned the tables! Both internationally and nationally we are putting European law on public trial. It is now forced into explaining why our justice system allows so many of our people to die in their prisons and lockups.’

Aunty Helen Ulli Corbett

The RCIADIC was a landmark inquiry that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hoped would achieve justice and bring about social and political change. Achieving justice through the what Dr Aunty Ruby Langford Ginibi termed the ‘white injustice system’, however, proved to be as fraught as challenging white law through a white legal system.




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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.