Nagle: 40 years on

By Meg Van Lohuizen

On the 40-year anniversary of the Nagle Royal Commission, a public event will be held at Charles Sturt University to commemorate one the most significant Royal Commissions in recent history.

The Royal Commission was set up to investigate the riots and reprisals of prisoners after the Bathurst Goal riots in 1974.

Front page of Western Advocate after the Bathurst Goal riots. Photo: Western Advocate

The burning down of Bathurst Goal during the riots lead to the Royal Commission that helped shaped the future of correctional services by investigating how prisoners were treated.

The deputy director for the Centre of Law and Justice at CSU, Dr Kath McFarlane, said that the brutality of the officers to the prisoners is what ultimately led to the riots.

Dr. McFarlane said the Royal Commission outlined the inappropriate treatment of prisoners.

While Dr McFarlane says the conditions have improved, she recognises the improvements still to be made following an inquest into the bashing of a Lithgow prisoner.

The event will investigate incarceration rates and the length of time prisoners spend in jail and how this impacts correctional services.

The inquiry changed the attitude of prison authorities towards prisoners, though this was not an easy change.

Dr Kath McFarlane said the community also needs to work together to treat our prisoners better.

She said that the biggest legacy of the Royal Commission is the re-humanisation of prisoners in the community.

The panel will host a variety of people who will bring in different perspectives of the prison system. This includes Assistant Commissioner for NSW Corrective Services, Luke Grant, as well as John Paget, a former NSW Inspector of Custodial Services.

Local barrister and former police officer, Bill Walsh, will also be in attendance to share his experience responding to the 1974 riots. Uncle Vic Simms, a local musician and former prisoner will not only be on the panel but also performing to close the event.

The event will be held at CSU Bathurst Campus on Thursday 23rd August from 5pm.