- 24-hour welfare and legal advice hotline for Aboriginal people taken into police custody
- Key recommendation of the coronial inquest into the death of Ms Dhu
A Custody Notification Service (CNS) which provides fundamental legal advice and a welfare check to all Aboriginal people taken into police custody is now operational in Western Australia.
As of midnight, it is now a mandatory requirement for police to call the CNS whenever an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is arrested and detained.
The CNS central number will divert to the phone of a rostered Aboriginal Legal Service of WA solicitor, who will then undertake a welfare check and provide legal advice to the person in custody.
The establishment of an independent notification service was a key recommendation from the inquest into the death of Ms Dhu at South Hedland Police Station in 2014.
The service will operate State-wide around-the-clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, staffed by the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA.
The CNS has been in a trial phase since July and became fully operational today.
Comments attributed to Police Minister Michelle Roberts:
"This is a long overdue reform and will provide appropriate safeguards for indigenous people in custody and also for Police.
"The CNS will ensure that Aboriginal people taken into custody receive appropriate welfare checks and have proper legal representation at the earliest opportunity.
"It's a tragedy that it has taken so long for Western Australia to implement such an important measure, but I am proud the McGowan Government has acted, when the former Liberal National Government would not.
"I'd also like to commend Commissioner Dawson, who through the creation of the Aboriginal Affairs Division, is making genuine steps towards strengthening relationships between the WA Police Force and the Aboriginal community."
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"The CNS will require all police officers taking into custody any indigenous or Torres Strait Islander person to immediately contact the Aboriginal Legal Service.
"The Coronial inquiry into the tragic death of Ms Dhu recommended the introduction of the service in WA.
"Ms Dhu should never have been in custody and she should never have died in custody. Had there been a custody notification service in place, I believe that her tragic death in custody would have been avoided."
Comments attributed to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
"The CNS is part of the McGowan Labor Government's suite of reforms to reduce the unnecessary incarceration of indigenous people.
"Calls for a CNS go all the way back to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
"I commend the Aboriginal Legal Service for its commitment to delivering this important service."
Police Minister's office - 6552 6900
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 5900