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Coroners Act In the matter of Coronial Findings and Recommendation into the Death of Mr Owen King pursuant to section 46B dated 3 December 2003



Coroners Act In the matter of Coronial Findings and Recommendation into the Death of Mr Owen King pursuant to section 46B dated 3 December 2003

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Tabled paper 1290


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT






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most if not all will have been apprehended because at the time of their apprehension they had drunk to levels dangerous to their health. I once again remind the government, as I reminded it in the Inquest into the Death of Rita Dandy (190/2001) of recommendation 80 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: That the abolition of the offence of drunkenness should be accompanied by adequately funded programs to establish and maintain non-custodial facilities for the care and treatment of intoxicated persons. The need for adequately sized, manned and funded sobering up shelters in the Northern Territory is increasing with the alcohol problem, particularly as it is manifested in Aboriginal community groups around Darwin and regional centres. It is for responsible government to provide these adequate sobering up shelters, and without delay and I so recommend. Finally, this Inquest has revealed that the Tennant Creek Watchhouse at the time of the death was inadequately staffed by police officers (and I refer to their own evidence in this regard). So long as the police have the care of drunken people held in their Watchhouses, so they have to resource the Watchhouse to ensure proper care. It appears in relation to this death that some of the Commissioners own guidelines and procedures were not complied with because of inadequate staffing levels. Accordingly, I recommend that staffing be monitored and set at appropriate levels. 43. At the time of the hearing of this Inquest I did not have the benefit of the report prepared pursuant to section 46B(3) of the Act in relation to the recommendations flowing from the Inquest into the death of Rita Dandy. One recommendation was that Sobering Up Shelters be funded to enable them to operate 24 hours a day. 44. I quote from the response dated 13 August 2003 the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Health and Community Services; Increasing the hours of operation of the Darwin Sobering-Up Shelter to 24 hours per day is not considered best practice and therefore would not be a priority for increased funding. Whilst the Sobering-Up Shelter does provide the first port of call for 21