Police misconduct and the investigation of complaints against police are issues that concern all Victorians. However, they have particular significance for Aboriginal people, who come into contact with police at a much higher rate than non-Aboriginal people. Despite this, Aboriginal people make very few complaints about police. Aboriginal community organisations have highlighted a lack of confidence in the police complaints system, driven by concerns about inherent bias in the investigation process, lack of adequate evidence gathering, poor communication with complainants and low substantiation rates.
The system of police oversight in Victoria has in recent years been the subject of considerable discussion, criticism and recommendations for reform. Many in the community are concerned by the fact that most complaints about police are investigated by Victoria Police rather than by an independent body. The Victorian Government is currently conducting a systemic review of the system of police oversight in Victoria.
Against this backdrop, and as part of its oversight responsibilities, IBAC examined Victoria Police's handling of 41 complaints made by Aboriginal people and its oversight of 13 serious incidents involving an Aboriginal person.
As IBAC undertook this audit within the current system of police oversight in Victoria, the recommendations do not address wider community concerns about the overall structure of the Victorian police complaints system.
Nevertheless, this audit sheds new light on Victoria Police's handling of complaints by Aboriginal people and identifies concerning patterns in current processes. This report outlines IBAC's findings and makes recommendations to improve Victoria Police processes.