Justice inquiry makes 100 recommendations for change
24 March 2022 Criminal justice system inquiry
A major review of Victoria’s criminal justice system has called for wide-ranging reform to address rising rates of imprisonment and recidivism.
The Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee has recommended the State Government adopt a more modern and rehabilitation-focused approach to justice in Victoria.
'We need urgent work to improve the way we deliver justice, to ensure community safety, and to find modern solutions to reduce offending and reoffending,' Committee Chair Fiona Patten said.
In the interests of victims the Government has been urged to amend the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) so alternative arrangements can be made for protected witnesses giving evidence, improve support services for victims with disability and establish a victims of crime strategy for culturally and linguistically diverse people.
'Victims told us we need to embed trauma-informed practices into the design of the justice system,' Ms Patten said.
'It needs to be more accessible and a less adversarial process for victims of crime.
'The Government should also consider the suggestions they made to this inquiry, as it develops a new victims of crime financial assistance scheme.'
The Committee received 170 submissions and held eight days of public hearings involving more than 90 witnesses, including at Wangaratta in north-east Victoria.
'We made it a priority to involve as many individuals with lived experience of the justice system as possible,' Ms Patten said.
'We heard some of the most heart wrenching, tragic evidence from victims of crime who have survived unimaginable loss and grief.
'I thank them for their bravery and generosity and assure them that their contribution was influential on the Committee’s recommendations.'
The comprehensive inquiry also examined early intervention, the overrepresentation of vulnerable cohorts, policing, bail and remand, courts and sentencing, prisons and rehabilitation, and the judiciary.
'The Government’s priorities should be focused on supporting victims of crime, rehabilitation of offenders, circumventing recidivism, ending overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in our jails, and ensuring early intervention for those who are disadvantaged,' Ms Patten said.
'I am satisfied that the changes we have proposed, if implemented, would have a significant positive influence on the lives of individuals and the safety of the community.'
To read all of the report’s 73 findings and 100 recommendations go to the Committee’s website at parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-lc/article/4534.