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A month ago, Australia marked the 30th anniversary of a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. ( RCIADIC)

It has long been tragically and shamefully clear that Australian governments have failed to put into practice many of the Commission’s 339 recommendations, including a crucial one that any solution to deaths in custody lies in reducing the incarceration rates of First Nations people.

In the week of the 30 year anniversary, a police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering Minnesota Black American George Floyd. President Joe Biden endorsed the guilty verdicts of two counts of murder and one of manslaughter. Floyd’s family credited the verdict to the massive campaign by black activists and their supporters, hundreds of whom had waited outside the court and chanted “Say his name: ‘George Floyd’! All three counts !”when the verdict was announced.

By contrast, in Australia, no individual has ever been held accountable through a criminal prosecution for more than 500 deaths in custody of First Nations citizens since 1987.Leetona Dungay and her family campaigning for an Inquiry into her son David’s death.

Instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates going down, the opposite has occurred. Tonight nearly 12,000 First Nations men and women will go to bed in prison. Several thousand of these prisoners are on remand, convicted of no offence.

In mid 2019. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders made up three percent of the Australian population but made up 28 percent of our prison population. Further, the Indigenous imprisonment rate was 12 times the rate for non-Indigenous prisoners in 2019, and has increased by 35 percent since 2009, compared to an increase of 26 percent for non-Indigenous prisoners.

Hundreds of families have been left in grief after losing sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles to death in custody since the Royal Commission reported. Five First Nations people have died in custody in the last month alone. They wait for years to find out even the basic facts about how their family member died.

The imprisonment figures are horrifying but should come as no surprise. In fact, even by 1993, there were signs that Federal and State governments did not intend to implement key recommendations of the Royal Commission.

Governments have failed. But what about the media? The Royal Commissions noted the historical role that media played in marginalising and rendering the abuses of First Nations peoples invisible. It called on the media to improve its coverage and to scrutinise governments’ actions in the future.

Thirty years later, in April this year, the Journalism and Education Research Association made a similar call. It issued a statement which in part read:

“Sustained and persistent media coverage is required, into the conditions that result in the deaths – including the underlying issues, systemic racism and the inadequate prison health services; the reasons for the high Indigenous youth and adult apprehension and incarceration rates; the lack of implementation of the recommendations that emerge from coronial inquest after coronial inquest – year after year, decade after decade; and the lack of investment in justice reinvestment and Aboriginal community youth programs that actually work”

The statement was drafted by Bonita Mason who is Program Director of Journalism at the University of South Australia.

So as we rightly criticise governments and politicians for their failures, it is also important to ask - how well has journalism performed its role in holding political and bureaucratic players to account for implementing the Royal Commission recommendations over the last 30 years? Have First Nations people who bear the brunt of deaths in custody been given an adequate voice? Have readers and audiences been provided with stories that explain the significance of the issues and strengthen awareness?

In this post, I begin to answer this question by providing an overview of reporting from the events that led to the Commission until this year.

1980s - Pushing deaths in custody onto the national agenda

One strong point needs to be made at the outset.

There would never have been a Royal Commission if it hadn’t been for years of campaigning by First Nations activists, particularly families of those who had died in custody. The campaign aimed to achieve national and eventually international visibility through the media - in other words, to break the silence around deaths in custody.

It began in 1983 with grassroots protests by families and friends around several deaths in custody, including that of Eddie Murray in Wee Waa, NSW, and 16-year-old John Pat in Roebourne, Western Australia.

On 12 June, 1981, 21 year-old Kamilaroi man Eddie Murray was found hanging in a cell, only an hour after being arrested for being ‘drunk and disorderly’. This was an instance of the daily harassment of Aboriginal people in NSW country towns. There had been no sign of Murray being depressed and he was on the verge of a successful football career and home to catch up with his parents, Arthur and Leila Murray. A coronial inquest was unable to determine if Mr Murray died “by his own hand or by the hand of persons or a person unknown”, but reached a conclusion there was not enough evidence to charge police. Arthur and Leila campaigned until their deaths for the case to be reinvestigated.

16 years old John Pat was beaten to death by five police officers. There were later charged but were acquitted of the manslaughter of John Pat in 1984. The Royal Commission later acknowledged that “The death of John Pat became for Aboriginal people nation wide a symbol of injustice and oppression… a continuing sense of injustice in the Aboriginal communities throughout Australia saw the anniversary of John Pat’s death marked by demonstrations calling for justice.”

1983 - Committee to Defend Black Rights “ for political and media attention

The Committee to Defend Black Rights (CDBR) organised a national tour of families whose members had died in custody. The CDBR called on the Federal government to hold a Royal Commission. ‘Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’ marches were held on the anniversaries of the deaths of Murray and Pat.

Mainstream media coverage of the issue was negligible with Indigenous deaths in custody usually attracting a one or two-sentence item, if anything at all. However, as the campaign built, alternative newspapers and community radio began following the issue.

Then, Perth freelance investigative journalist Jan Mayman began to follow the John Pat case. She later won a Golden Walkley, Australia’s highest journalism award, for an investigation into Pat’s death published in Melbourne’s The Age. The ABC’s Four Corners team took up the story and David Marr and others also won a Walkley award for a 1985 report.

In 1987, seven First Nations people died in prison or police custody over a six-week period. A packed meeting held in Sydney Town Hall called for a Royal Commission. Activists warned they would use the Australian bicentenary of white invasion in 1988 as a platform to expose Australia’s human rights abuses to the world. They took the issue to the United Nations.

1988 - Deaths in Custody becomes a mainstream story

At last, Aboriginal deaths in custody was a mainstream political story. On 15 August 1987, following the death of Lloyd Boney in the police station in Brewarrina in northern NSW, the Federal Labor Government announced a Royal Commission into 44 deaths in custody. Eventually, 99 deaths were investigated.

Some Aboriginal activists were justifiably wary. The chairwoman of the National Committee to Defend Black Rights, Helen Corbett, said international pressures had played a key role in the decision to set up the inquiry. Before that, Aborigines “came up against a brick wall’, she said. As she told 2CR’s ‘Doin’ Time’ program recently, she personally distributed thousands of pamphlets at international United Nations Committee Human Rights meetings in Geneva.

The Australian media, which under normal circumstances would rarely visit Brewarrina, descended on the town to cover Lloyd Boney’s funeral. The NSW government sent the Police Tactical Response squad. About 100 Indigenous community members held a protest march, demanding that Boney’s death be the first to be investigated.

Historian Dr Heather Goodall carried out a detailed analysis of how the television footage of these events in Brewarrina was used to convey the impression that Aboriginal people rather than police or armed whites played the most active role in generating the violence. She concluded that the cutting and repeated re-use of the material linked Aboriginal people with crime, criminal irrationality, disorder in a way which had a powerful meaning beyond any aim to report “what happened” and created “a profoundly false impression of what happened”. (Goodall, 1992, p.7).

1991 - Royal Commission issues its final Report

Few Australian Royal Commissions have attracted stronger, more passionate media attention than the 1991 Final Report of the Royal Commission. “Oppression laid bare” was the headline on Murdoch’s Daily Mirror Telegraph on May 10th, 1991.

The article began:

“The Royal Commission has laid bare the harshness and oppression experienced by Australia’s most disadvantaged groups.’as an indictment of the legal and corrective services system in respect of the most disadvantaged group in Australian society and of society itself.”

It continued:

“History will record that the Royal Commission has played a crucial role in laying open the harshness and oppression experienced by many Aboriginal Australians. The report stands as an indictment of the legal and corrective services system in respect of the most disadvantaged group in Australian society and of society itself in allowing that situation to develop and continue.”

‘It’s a disgrace to the nation’, ‘Our state of shame’, and ‘Cell conditions inhuman’ headlines stories inside the paper. ( The Daily Mirror Telegraph was renamed as The DailyTelegraph in 1996) The coverage was similar across the Australian media.

Screenshots of Telegraph Mirror May, 1991.

The Royal Commission report highlighted the key role that journalism played in developing public narratives around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It noted that Aboriginal people felt that reporters privileged the views of the police and ignored them. It called for resources to be put into Indigenous media and for Indigenous journalists to be employed by the rest of the media. The report envisaged a role for journalism that could contribute to justice for Aboriginal people if it placed deaths in custody in their social and moral contexts. Investigative journalism had played an important role in achieving the Royal Commission in contrast to the media’s usual role which “historically relegated Aboriginal people to the fringes of society”.

After the report was published, there were conferences to develop Indigenous media and build an awareness of how journalism can amplify racism through reporting practices.

But despite the big splash and work to build indigenous media behind the scenes, deaths in custody vanished from the news agenda remarkably quickly.

In 1993, just two years after the Royal Commission, the National Committee to Defend Black Rights spokesperson Maurice Walker complained to an Australian Centre for Independent Journalism ( ACIJ) reporter that number of Indigenous people in prison was rising and that relatives of those who died in custody were bitter about the lack of action. Waradjuri leader and Coordinator of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee Ray Jackson said, “$430 million has been spent and yet deaths in custody are still continuing. In fact there have been 52 deaths since 1989 and nothing’s changed.” These voices barely surfaced in the mainstream media.

In November 1993, a young Aboriginal dancer Daniel Yock was arrested by police and lost consciousness in the police van on his way to the police station and died less than an hour after his arrest. (For more on this case, read Chris Graham’s article for New Matilda in 2017 and this feature by Daniel Browning, Allan Clarke and Rudi Bremer published the ABC 28 years after York’s death.)

The Murri community in Brisbane were shocked and angered by his death and organised protests. Initially there was a violent clash between protesters and police followed by a silent march a week later. Coverage of the protests put deaths in custody in the headlines again. Just as the Royal Commission had warned, some of the reports ignored police violence and portrayed protesters as disruptive. But the real question was: without the protests would there have been any coverage at all?

Outrageously, a Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) Inquiry would later find that Yock’s arrest was lawful and that the police had done nothing wrong. It also found that the fact that Daniel was an Aboriginal man, played no role in his arrest.

1995 - four years on from Royal Commission

In 1995, Bonita Mason, Peter Cronau and myself reviewed media reporting of the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. We published an article is the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism magazine Reportage.

We concluded:

“there has been passing media interest in the issue but the coverage is been based on isolated news events such as the publication of official reports. The full impact of what is happening remains hidden. There has been little in-depth analysis or reporting of what is happening on the ground the media has lapsed into a passive, rather than an active role.”

You can read the article here:.

(The photos in the Reportage article were published with permission at the time of initial publication.)

We provided a small case study of the coverage of the Australian Institute of Criminology 1993/4 snapshot of Deaths in Custody. The snapshot was an annual report that was published as a result of a RCIADIC recommendation. The devastating news was that 14 aboriginal people had died in custody during 1993, which was the highest number since figures were first collected in 1980. In a media release, AIC Director Dr Graycar pointed out:“while the Aboriginal population is less than 2% of the total population, it comprises 16% of the prison population….This unacceptably high incarceration rate of Aboriginal people combined with the poor health status, presents a truly regrettable and preventable situation.”

The Federal Minister Rob Tickner also issued a media statement in which he described the “gross over representation of Aboriginal people in custody as disturbing.” He called on State and Territory governments to ensure reforms were enacted in their areas of direct responsibility for the criminal justice police and prison systems.“

Despite these findings, the AIC report got little coverage in the Australian media. There were ten small reports in major mainstream newspapers and the ABC. Most of these failed to mention the key point which was that the rise in deaths in custody was linked to the increasing rates of incarceration. Only four media outlets mentioned the Minister’s call for action.

Only The Age and the Canberra Times mentioned both Tickner’s release and the link with increasing rates of incarceration.

The key issue was completely missed by The Australian newspaper when a reporter wrote that “despite the implementation of the recommendations’, deaths in custody continued”. (my emphasis)

Our research found no coverage of the AIC report by any commercial television or radio station.

Four years after the media splashed with the Royal Commission report, millions of Australians had not received even minimal information about Federal and State governments’ slow progress in implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations and the continuing tragedy of deaths in custody.

There were Indigenous spokespeople available but journalists chose to ignore them.

Social Justice Commissioner Mick Dodson’s urgent call is ignored.

The media also ignored the urgent calls of Mick Dodson who was then the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Yawuru leader and lawyer Mick Dodson tried hard to attract public attention. He had been appointed in 1992 as a direct result of the Royal Commission report. In a speech to the Evatt Foundation he said,

“It ( Commonwealth) progress report is virtually unreadable, full of bureaucratic hand bug, padding, self justification and empire defending. It is simply an account of bureaucratic activity which tells us almost nothing about what impact, if any bureaucratic activity is having on the ground in. In this account the main point of many of the recommendations is entirely missed.”

Dodson issued an annual report which included a chapter on deaths in custody. At the same time, he issued a media release which stated that he still regarded the bipartisan support for the Royal commission report as a watershed moment but that there was a real danger of that moment being squandered.

Journalists could easily have promoted this report. Dodson’s words were clear and highly quotable. As a significant public figure holding an official position, he was just the sort of source favoured by mainstream media. But editors, producers and reporters chose not to interview him.

No media outlet investigated the reasons for the rise in deaths in custody.

A few journalists break through the silence

In 2004, I again reviewed coverage of deaths in custody. It was now 14 years since the Royal Commission report was had been released.

I found that most Australians were continuing to receive almost no information about deaths in custody. There was little or no coverage on TV news, through which most Australians accessed news at that time.

There was some outstanding examples of reporting on individual cases. In 1997, my colleague at the ACIJ, Bonita Mason won a Walkley award for an investigation ‘The girl in Cell 4’ into the 1994 death of Janet Beetson who had been imprisoned in Sydney’s Mulawa prison for stealing.

2001 - A sad ten year anniversary of Royal Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission issued a Social Justice report on the 10 year anniversary of the Royal Commission report. The report expressed profound disappointment at the continued deaths in custody but noted, “Yet in 2001 this hardly raises a murmur of discontent
yet alone outrage among the broader community. These facts either go unnoticed, or perhaps even worse in the age of reconciliation are simply accepted and not challenged.As a consequence, Indigenous affairs seem to have become a series of anniversaries –operating as an annual reminder of the unfulfilled promises and commitments of governments.” There may have been some coverage of this report but I have not been able to find any. ( I will update if I can find some.)

Some of Australia’s best journalists continued to focus on investigating individual cases.

In 2002, Four Corners journalist Andrew Fowler investigated the neglect and discrimination that led to the death of Eddie Russell, the cousin of Kamilaroi man Eddie Murray, who died in custody in 1981. Suffering intellectual and physical disabilities, Russell had been bashed by police, kept away from his parents and locked in a cell on his own. The Coroner found there was simply no system to accommodate him.

In 2005, the ABC Message Stick series produced a program in memory of Leila Murray, the mother of Eddie Murray who never accepted that her son died by hanging and spent twenty years campaigning for the truth to be investigated. ( Her granddaughter Keah Patten continues to campaign for the case to be reopened.

Mulrunji (Cameron Doomadgee) was arrested for swearing at a white police officer. For minutes later, he had been killed in the watch-house on Palm Island in 2004. His brutal treatment catapulted the deaths in custody issue back into the headlines.

His death was followed by protests and the burning down of the local police station. The community did not accept that Doomadgee’s death was ‘an accident’.

There was a lot of coverage of this case including long reports by Tony Koch for The Australian, a book The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper, a film based on the book and major artwork by Indigenous artist Vernon Ah-Kee and hundreds of other reports. ( References to some of this publications can be found here.)

Palm Island elder and local Councillor Lex Wotton played a major role in leading his community’s fight for justice. He was stun- gunned in his home and sentenced to six years but but eventually only spent two years in prison for his role in the riot. His long fight highlighted underlying discrimination against First Nations people and the denial of the right to free speech of Queensland prisoners and parolees generally. ( You can read more about Wotton’s role here.)

Later, in 2018, The Queensland government reached a $30 million settlement with Palm Island residents as a result of a class action in the Federal Court over the riots that followed the death of Doomadgee. But Doomadgee’s family told Green Left “no amount of money will alleviate the pain of losing him.”

The Queensland state also apologised to the community after a landmark racial discrimination case in which the Federal Court found police were racist in their response to riots that followed Doomadgee’s death.

ABC’s 7.30 report noted that Doomadgee’s death had focussed attention back on the issue of deaths in custody and reminded people how little progress had been made. Spokesperson for the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action told the 7.30 journalist that “Australia is actually going backwards or is forgetting the commitments that it has made.” Dr David Biles, who had been head of research for the Royal Commission, was interviewed and said, “the bad news is that over the past 13 years, more indigenous people are dying in jails, and that is basically because there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of indigenous imprisonment. When we did the Royal Commission, 15% of all Australian prisoners were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Now it is nearly 22%. And that should be seen against the background of 1.68% of Australians are indigenous. So that level of over-representation in quite a disgrace.”

More generally, the media ignored these systemic patterns.

On Invasion Day in 2008, Ngaanyatjarra leader Mr Ward was arrested for driving under the influence. The following day, he was put in a private security van to be transported 400 kilometres to Kalgoorlie. On the way, he was literally cooked to death in extreme heat. In June, 2009. his death was investigated by Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson. The Department of Corrective Services had been warned about the dangers of the van transfers. It later apologised to Mr Ward’s family but although the private security guards were sacked, no one was charged. As one of those interviewed said, “If there were something called bureaucratic manslaughter, the Department of Corrective Services would certainly be prima facie guilty of that.”

While she was studying for a Masters of Journalism at UTS, young reporter Inga Ting was struck by the silence around deaths in custody. Her extensive analysis of national statistic and NSW Coroners’ Reports was later published by Crikey.

Deaths in Custody reports delayed

In May 2013, the Australian Institute of Criminology released its deaths in custody report. There were then 8,430 Indigenous citizens in prison - this represented 26% of all prisoners. The highest rates of incarceration in the OECD were of First Nations people living in Western Australia.

Nationally, In 20 years rates had gone from one Indigenous person in seven incarcerated to one in four.

A Factiva database search reveals six items were published in Australian print/online media on this report.

These included a news item on the ABC ; five pieces in Fairfax’s SMH, The Age and the Canberra Times, all authored by Mark Baker; another SMH opinion piece by Inga Ting and an opinion piece in The Australian. .

Only Inga Ting ( now ABC) reported that the Federal Labor government was very late with the reports. Her report is worth quoting”

“That this report is not months but years late is a snub to the importance of that goal. A decade ago, the program was delivering its reports within days of the close of the reporting period - the 2003, 2004 and 2005 reports were delivered within one month. Then, without explanation, each of the next three reports took between 16 months and two years to appear. The 2009-11 report has been almost 3½ years in the making.

Finally, the edition covering 2009, 2010 and half of 2011 is here. You might expect that this report - which marks 20 years since the royal commission and paints a horrific portrait of the state of indigenous criminal justice - might have grabbed some headlines. Yet newspapers of the day carried a single article - an opinion piece co-written by the Institute’s research analyst Mathew Lyneham, buried on page 10 of The Australian.

The government’s press release - with the Orwellian title “20 Years on - Improvements in death-in-custody rates but more to be done” - labelled the report as “encouraging” and “welcomed … findings that death-in-custody rates have decreased significantly in the past decade” and are “some of the lowest recorded”.

But that was spin. The truth is that rates of death are only low because rates of incarceration are at a record high. In fact, the actual number of indigenous deaths in prison is on the rise, with the number in 2009-10 (14 deaths) equal to the highest on record.

Given the central aim of the royal commission’s 339 recommendations - to urgently reduce indigenous incarceration rates - and the report’s finding that the proportion of indigenous prisoners had almost doubled in the 20 years since the commission delivered those recommendations, the findings look more like an abject failure.”

Mark Baker also cut through the spin and quoted several First Nations sources including Mick Dodson and Professor Larissa Behrendt at the University of Technology who called for an independent body to investigate deaths in custody. She said, ‘‘We could have improved things a lot more than we have, given all the work that has been done and all the recommendations that have been made,’’ said Behrendt. ‘‘The royal commission provided a great blueprint. There is no mystery about what works. It has all been laid out. That’s the most frustrating thing: this can be fixed.’’

The Australian piece on the report focussed on explaining why Indigenous deaths were rising although the rate of deaths per the total number of Indigenous prisoners was declining. The answer lay “ in changes in rates of imprisonment. In 1991, when the RCIADIC handed down its findings, indigenous people represented about 14 per cent of the prison population and 14 per cent (five) of deaths in prison. Twenty years later, indigenous people represent just more than 26 per cent of the prison population, but about 21 per cent (14) of deaths in prison.”

So exactly the opposite to what the Royal Commission had recommended as the key reform that was needed was happening - but as far as I could discover, editors of regional or News Corporation tabloids chose not to promote that fact.

2013 - Black Lives Matter movements.

Since 2013, the Black Lives Matter network in the United States has been fighting racism and anti-Black violence, especially in the form of police brutality. The movement has both been covered as a global event but also has inspired local activism, which in turn has sparked more Australian media attention on local deaths in custody.

In 2014, Yamatji woman Ms Dhu died in police custody in South Hedland, Western Australia. Less than 48 hours before, she was imprisoned for non-payment of fines. In an article which links Ms Dhu’s death to “forms of gendered, institutional and structural racism endemic to the Australian settler state”, Pauline Klippmark and Karen Crawley argue that the media’s role in the circulating of CCTV footage showing torture of Dylan Voller in Don Dale Detention Centre sparked international condemnation which led to attention on Ms Dhu’s death. The Guardian’s Calla Wahlquist, the ABC, SBS and other media closely followed events and protests.

In 2018, Guardian Australia first published Deaths Inside, which told the individual stories of the people behind the statistics. Guardian Australia’s Indigenous Affairs editor Gamilaraay and Yawalaraay woman Lorena Allam, data editor Nick Evershed and reporter Calla Wahlquist have been tracking deaths ever since. They’ve been through hundreds of coroners’ reports and have recorded every known death since 2008 to today.

In April this year, The Guardian announced that Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney will continue to manage, update and enhance the database, and make it available as a public resource. Allam wrote, “In its horrifying totality Deaths Inside is a story of systemic failure and the determination of the families left behind, as they fight for answers and accountability.”

There are reasons for hope. A key element in invigorating the media coverage of deaths in custody has been the Aboriginal families and communities who never gave up campaigning. The numbers of people, especially young people, attending protests has also grown. In 2020, First Nations families who had one or more members who had died in custody gathered in a circle Sydney’s Domain. Representatives of families spoke surrounded by a much wider circle of non-Indigenous supporters. The whole event was live streamed. (I did two reports for City Hub on 2020 protests - here and here.)

Compared to in 1991, today in Australia, Indigenous journalists are prominent in the coverage including Lorena Allam, Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman Amy McQuire, Wiradjuri elder Stan Grant and others. Journalism about First Nations people by First Nations reporters has become more prominent as the Royal Commission hoped it would.

New forms of data journalism allow for more systematic analysis of Coroners’ reports.

There is also more independent publishing, not just by media organisations like The Guardian, Crikey and NITV but also by Indigenous research organisations such as Jumbunna. These avenues for story telling did not exist in the early 1990s. Progressive weekly newspaper Green Left is one outlet that has consistently followed the issue. ( Here is a search that links to hundreds of reports.)

But the broader picture of coverage over thirty years is not one of which those of us who are journalists can be proud. The coverage in News Corporation tabloid outlets certainly has not reflected the strength of their editors reaction to the 1991 Royal Commission report. Their silence around the issue needs to be seen in the lens of ‘law and order’ politics in which the media has framed in state election after state election. The conservative political environment under both LNP and Labor governments helped build an environment in which increasing incarceration rates were even seen as a positive development.

In Part two of this series, I will return to this broader picture and also do a case study of how the media covered the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission.


Last year, Bonita Mason who is now the Program Director of Journalism at the University of South Australia updated my 2005 review for Pacific Journalism Review.

Acknowledgement: Ray Jackson

I’d like to acknowledge the influence that Waradjeri warrior for justice Ray Jackson had on the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and our teaching and research on deaths in custody. Even when ill, he was a persistent voice for justice and accountability for victims and their families. He refused to shut up about the death of TJ Hickey in the suburb of Waterloo where he also lived. He died in 2015. You can hear him talk at the Kensington and Flemington Community Legal Centre in Melbourne in 2013 Inga Ting wrote an obituary for Ray Jackson in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Bacon, W. and Mason, B. (1995). Reporting deaths in custody. Reportage. Autumn, No.5.

Four Corners (2002, November 11). Death by neglect. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Goodall, H. (1992). Constructing a ‘riot’: Sydney: Television News and Aborigines, Racism Media Project, University of Technology, Sydney.

Graham, Chris ( 2017). The Killing Fields: How We Failed Elijah Doughty, And Countless Others, New Matilda.

Kingston, M. (1996, January 1). Crisis summit urged as deaths in custody soar. Sydney Morning Herald.

Macey, R. (1996, July 8). Day of shame: Watchdog condemns black deaths. Sydney Morning Herald.

Marr, D. (1985). Black Death, Four Corners, ABC Television.

Mason, B. (1997). The girl in Cell 4, HQ Magazine, Spring.

Mayman, J. (1984, June 25), Back to the dreaming, The Age.

Message Stick (2004) ‘Leila Murray’ Summer Series no. 9. (Retrieved September 2005).

Other articles and resources.