The number of people accessing compassionate leave has continued to fall since our 2013 review, particularly the number of Aboriginal people accessing such leave.
The Department has made almost no progress on the recommendations that it supported in 2013. Instead it has further tightened funeral access, especially for Aboriginal people. It uses criteria which go directly against the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and its commitments to cultural sensitivity outlined in its latest Reconciliation Action Plan.
The previous Commissioner limited access to funerals to save money, but the Department could not show how much was being saved, or how much funerals were costing. Three years on, there is still no clarity around cost. The Department remains unable to explain the cost of funerals, but continues to make decisions on whether people can attend based on ill-informed cost limitations. In doing so, it is denying people access to an important opportunity to stay connected with their community and their families which is vital in successfully reintegrating after release.