Trauma: prisons, dentention centres and the NT Intervention

The issue of deaths in police custody is one of continuing shame in Australia, both because of the numbers of those who die in such cirumstances and because of the proportion of Aboriginal people who make up the dead.

But current research into deaths in custody in Australia's prisons and dentention centres has revealed an alarming rate of deaths post-custody as well.

The study being done by Gerry Georgatos of the Human Rights Alliance in Western Australia started out as an examination of deaths in custody, but has lead more broadly to an examination of trauma induced while in custody.

Mr Georgatos says the suffering experienced while in prison or immigration detention leaves prisoners prone to re-offend and ex-dentainees to languish in unemployment.

He says though we may have 70 to 80 deaths each year we have a "couple of hundred" post-release.

From there he draws a link with the NT Intervention - which because it is administered by the Federal Government is a custodial situation.

There, he says, people growing up under the intervention have had their rights taken away from them which feeds into their sense of identity, leading to an "inter-generational trauma" not dissimilar to poverty among current and past generations of Aboriginal people.

Steven Riggall spoke with Gerry Georgatos about this issue.

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