Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project has launched a report on the unfair rules around disclosure of old criminal convictions in Victoria. The report 'A Legislated Spent Convictions Scheme for Victoria: Recommendations for Reform' was launched at a Law Week event this week, where academics, lawyers and politicians discuss how we can change the rules to keep the whole community safer, and give people the second chance they deserve.
At the moment, it is up to police to decide what to disclose in a criminal record check. These checks go to employers, housing providers and insurance companies. With a conviction, these checks can be a roadblock to accessing all manner of life’s necessities. And it doesn’t just impact serious offenders; a minor drug possession charge at 20 will be on your record at 28. That’s why we need a clear and fair set of laws that govern how and when records will be disclosed.
RAP’s report, which analyses the legislation in other Australian jurisdictions, finds that the introduction of these laws would be a simple straightforward reform. The report outlines options for change and offers a recommended scheme. These recommendations are founded on the belief that offenders should be punished appropriately, but they should also be given the opportunity to actively contribute to society once their punishment has been delivered.
By allowing minor findings of guilt to remain on records, and permitting discrimination against a person because of an irrelevant criminal record, the ability for past offenders to contribute to society through employment or other means is limited.
RAP’s Paige Darby, lead author of the report, said:
“The idea behind a spent convictions scheme really is one of a ‘fair go’. If you have committed a minor offence, repaid your debt to society and stayed out of a trouble for a number of years you should be able to clear your slate and start anew.
“A spent convictions scheme should be implemented in Victoria. It will put Victorians on an even playing field with the rest of Australia. It encourages rehabilitation. It recognises that people have the capacity to change and deserve another chance.”
The report was launched at an event held as part of Law Week 2017 (15-21 May 2017).
The event panel discussion included Fiona Patten (Australian Sex Party MLC), Sue Pennicuik
(Victorian Greens MLC), Dr Bronwyn Naylor (RMIT University) and Karen Chibert (Youthlaw).
When Does the Past Stop Catching Up with You?
Wednesday 17 May 2017
5.30pm - 7pm
College of Law, Level 6, 459 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project Media Contact
Kat Brown, Chair of Rights Advocacy Project