Fewer Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system

Goal

2.1

Aboriginal people are no worse off under justice policies and legislation

Outcomes

2.1.1

Disproportionate impacts are identified and remedied when drafting new policies and legislation

2.1.2

Disproportionate impacts of existing justice policies and legislation are identified and remedied

 

As a result of existing over-representation in the criminal justice system, the interconnected issues of high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, historical issues related to trauma and continued experiences of racism, there have been disproportionate consequences for the Aboriginal community in the wake of legislative reforms in Victoria. These reforms, including amendments to suspended sentences, community corrections and parole, were implemented to improve community safety in Victoria.

These changes are associated with increasing numbers of people under justice supervision in Victoria, rapid growth in remand populations, and fewer people on parole. Growth in Aboriginal involvement in the justice system and imprisonment rates, both male and female, far exceeds that for the non-Aboriginal population.

Reducing over-representation requires heightened consideration of the potential impacts of new legislation, and legislation already in place may be reducing opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate fully in economic and social life.

 

 

Strategies

Icon indicating this strategy is policy and system change.

Ensure Aboriginal perspectives inform the development of new justice polices and legislation, and the likely impacts on Aboriginal communities are identified and addressed.

Icon indicating this strategy is policy and system change.

Remedy the unfair impacts on Aboriginal people of existing and historical legislation to ensure rights are protected and negative impacts are addressed.

Icon indicating this strategy is early intervention and prevention.

Facilitate consideration of an Aboriginal person’s life experience and history; and information regarding alternative options, to increase culturally appropriate legal responses in a variety of justice settings.

 

Existing initiatives

  • Victoria’s Bail Act 1977 requires decision-makers determining whether to bail or remand a person to take into account any issues that arise due to the Aboriginality of the accused.
  • Additional protections for Aboriginal people in bail processes through the commencement of the Bail Amendment (Stage Two) Act 2018.
  • A legislative youth diversion scheme that allows children in the Children’s Court and the Children’s Koori Court to be diverted from the criminal justice system.
  • Introduction of Youth Control Orders that provide intensive community-based monitoring and supervision for young offenders and ensure their participation in education, training or work.

New opportunities

Over five years we will

Aboriginal Community Justice Reports
Not yet commenced

Aboriginal Community Justice Reports

Trial Aboriginal Community Justice Reports modelled on Canada’s Gladue reports to provide information to judicial officers about an Aboriginal person’s life experience and history that impacts their offending; and to identify more suitable sentencing arrangements to address these underlying factors.
Aboriginal involvement in legislative reform for youth justice
Not yet commenced

Aboriginal involvement in legislative reform for youth justice

In progressing the recommendations for legislative reform made in Meeting needs and reducing offending: Youth Justice review and strategy, specifically the creation of a new Youth Justice Act, consider mechanisms for Aboriginal involvement.
Historical care and protection orders
Underway

Historical care and protection orders

Introduce legislation to clarify that relevant historical care and protection orders made by courts under historical children's welfare legislation are not to be treated as convictions or findings of guilt.
Impact of bail reforms
In development

Impact of bail reforms

Research the impact of the 2017-18 bail reforms on Aboriginal accused.

Future possibilities

We will continue to work with Aboriginal communities to consider

Aboriginal impact assessments
Future consideration

Aboriginal impact assessments

Consider mechanisms to identify the potential impact of new justice policies and legislation on Aboriginal Victorians.
Formal apology
Future consideration

Formal apology

A formal apology that acknowledges how historical recording practices for children removed from their homes may have affected care leavers.
Sentencing Act 1991
Future consideration

Sentencing Act 1991

Consider amending the Sentencing Act 1991 to take into account Aboriginality and the use of pre-sentence reports.