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Procedure Properties

Title: Funeral Attendance by Indigenous Prisoners
Category: Offender Management
Version: 02
Implement Date: 28 August 2006
Application: Custodial Operations
Availability: Public


Appendices and Forms


Performance Measures

  • Indigenous status

Procedure - Funeral Attendance by Indigenous Prisoners

3.Application for compassionate leave
4.Approval and consultation
5.Conduct of the escort
6.Use of handcuffs/restraints
7.Financial arrangements
8.Use of video-conferencing technology


To provide community access for indigenous prisoners to attend funerals, under escort, in a safe, secure and sensitive manner.

Recognition is given to the special kinship and family obligations of indigenous prisoners that extend beyond the immediate family in accordance with recommendation 171 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

1. Process

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the procedures - Escort of Offenders (in-confidence); Leave of Absence and will provide additional guidance for the approval and escort of indigenous prisoners attending funerals.

This procedure relates to attendance at funerals only and does not include other events.

2. Eligibility

A prisoner may be eligible to attend a funeral where the deceased person was -

  1. a father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, step-father or step-mother of the prisoner; or
  2. a son, daughter, grandson, grand-daughter, step-son or step-daughter of the prisoner; or
  3. a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister of the prisoner; or
  4. an uncle or aunt of the prisoner; or
  5. a nephew or niece of the prisoner; or
  6. a cousin of the prisoner; or
  7. if the person is or was married-in addition to paragraphs (a) to (f), a person who is or was a relative, of the kind described in any of those paragraphs, of the prisoner's spouse; or
  8. a de facto partner.

In some instances the deceased person may have had a closer relationship with the prisoner than is immediately apparent. Kinship within indigenous cultures often extends close relationship ties where a grandparent or aunt/uncle may assume a parent role, or a cousin a brother/sister relationship. For example, where an aunt has raised a child she may assume a mother figure while her offspring are regarded as brothers and sisters.

Kinship must be verified prior to approval being granted for a prisoner to attend a funeral. The Counsellor-Family Support, or equivalent position, will verify eligibility of the prisoner - deceased person relationship after consultation with family, relevant community council/s and prisoner groups.

3. Application for compassionate leave

A prisoner must apply for compassionate leave of absence to attend a funeral using administrative form - Application for Leave of Absence.

Refer procedure - Leave of Absence (Section 5 - Compassionate and health leaves of absence).

4. Approval and consultation

Compassionate leave of absence to attend a funeral will only be granted when the general manager of a corrective services facility, through the Counsellor - Family Support has consulted with the relevant community council to determine that -

  1. the deceased person was a close family member as defined in section 2 of this procedure;
  2. the community and family approve of the prisoner attending the funeral. This is necessary since the victim/s of the prisoner's offence/s may be attending the same funeral;
  3. the community has been made aware of the proposed escort details and arrangements, in particular if handcuffs or other form of restraint are to be used;
  4. any proposed financial arrangements to allow the prisoner to attend will not place unnecessary hardship on the family of the prisoner or the deceased; and
  5. whenever possible, a representative of the community council will meet and accompany the escort throughout the visit. The nominated representative should provide a reliable contact number (preferably a mobile telephone number), which can be used, for example, by escorting officers in case of delays, etc.

It is important that community councils be made aware that under no circumstances can a prisoner act as a pall bearer where that prisoner is required to wear handcuffs or any other form of restraint. Only those prisoners approved to attend without restraint may act as a pall bearer; this will normally be prisoners of low security classification.

5. Conduct of the escort

Escorts should be conducted in accordance with the procedure - Escort of Offenders (in-confidence) with particular consideration being given that -

  1. wherever possible Indigenous corrective services officers undertake escort duties;
  2. civilian (plain) clothes be worn by the prisoner and escorting staff where possible; and
  3. prior to commencing escort the escorting officers be adequately briefed on the circumstances and procedures of the escort. The briefing will include the sensitivity and cultural significance of the occasion and require the escorting officers to display appropriate behaviour and sensitivity.

A prisoner on a funeral escort may be permitted to speak to other persons if, in the opinion of the escorting officer, it is appropriate.

6. Use of handcuffs/restraints

Restraints must be used in accordance with appendices - Escort Staffing, Weapons and Restraint Matrix (Location) (in-confidence); Escort Staffing, Weapons and Restraint Matrix (Method QCS) (in-confidence).

If a variation to the restraint matrix is considered appropriate, approval for the variation must be obtained from the relevant authority identified in procedure - Escort of Offenders (in-confidence).

An escorting officer should, if possible, minimise public view of any restraints placed on a prisoner at a funeral. If handcuffs are minimised from view, escorting officers are required to confirm their integrity at regular intervals.

If possible, the use of armed officers and chains attaching handcuffs to officers and/or leg shackles should not be used for prisoners attending funerals.

7. Financial arrangements

The provision of staff and transport for the escort of prisoners to attend funerals is a costly exercise and cannot be met through departmental operational budgets. Prisoners are expected to meet these costs themselves, either directly or by their families, communities or other approved sources.

Limited funds are made available for indigenous prisoners to attend approved funerals under the Family Support Program. Strict budgets apply to this scheme and these funds should only be considered as supplemental where other funding options fail to provide the total amount required.

Financial assistance should first be sought from the prisoner, the prisoner's family and/or the relevant community council. Where the total moneys required exceeds the total moneys obtained, approval may be sought for the shortfall to be provided from the Family Support Program.

8. Use of video-conferencing technology

Where funeral attendance is not possible due to the distance between the funeral location and the corrective services facility, consideration may be given to the use of video-conferencing technology for a prisoner to maintain family contact.

Refer CSA ss 51 and 150(f)(i).

Refer procedure - Telephone and Video-conference Calls for Offenders

F P Rockett

Version History

28/08/2006 Version 02 - 23/07/2001 Version 01