Liberty Victoria welcomes the Victorian government’s announcement that it is committed to introducing a legislated spent convictions scheme. Once a scheme is legislated, this will bring Victoria in line with every other Australian state and territory, including Queensland, which has had a legislated scheme since 1986.
A Victorian spent convictions scheme will transform the lives of many Victorians and put them on an equal footing with citizens of other states and territories.
Liberty Victoria urges the Government to introduce the bill as soon as possible and asks that the Opposition and minor parties support it.
Currently Victoria Police has complete discretion over which past convictions are disclosed when a person applies for a criminal record check. A legislated spent convictions scheme would make this process clear and transparent.
Many Victorians with minor, one-off offending are too afraid to apply for jobs which require a police check, worried that their past mistakes will continue to hamper their rehabilitation.
The Victorian government made the announcement in its response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into a legislated spent convictions scheme report, which was tabled in Parliament on 27 August 2019.
Liberty Victoria congratulates all of the community organisations, in particular the Woor-Dungin Criminal Record Discrimination Project, who have been fighting for this reform for many years. The lack of a Victorian spent convictions scheme has disproportionately impacted Indigenous Victorians.
Liberty Victoria also welcomes the Victorian government’s support of an amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 so that an irrelevant criminal record is a protected attribute.
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy noted in her announcement that the Government will work with stakeholders to develop the detail of the scheme. Liberty Victoria would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government on the proposed Victorian scheme.
In 2017, Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project released a report outlining the case for reform and made eight recommendations. Many of RAP’s recommendations were adopted by the Reason Party in their draft legislation.
Martin Radzaj, Chair of Liberty Victoria’s Criminal Policy Committee and Julia Kretzenbacher, Vice-President of Liberty Victoria, gave evidence in support of a Victorian Spent Convictions Scheme at the Parliamentary Inquiry in July 2019.
For comment, please contact Liberty Victoria on 03 9670 6422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.