WEstjustice gives evidence at parliamentary inquiry

On Thursday 21 October, WEstjustice appeared before the Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria's Criminal Justice System to discuss our submission. We were represented by CEO, Melissa Hardham, and Director of Youth Programs, Anoushka Jeronimus. 

The Inquiry is looking at the growth in the number of people in remand and prison, despite little change in crime rates; as well as strategies to reduce recidivism; the knowledge and expertise required by judges and magistrates; and judicial appointment processes.

Our submission focussed on children and young people in the justice system (particularly Aboriginal and culturally diverse children and young people) and women experiencing family violence. 

We know the devastating effect incarceration has on children and young people and that the earlier a person has contact with the justice system, the higher the risk of further contact. We also know that children from the western suburbs are overrepresented.

Better knowledge and understanding of the drivers and context of offending mean better decision-making at every level.

Youth brain development and the differences between children and adults, unconscious bias, racism, cultural competency, gender and sexuality, family violence, trauma and mental health are just a few of the areas in which we believe training would be beneficial. 

We have recommended several changes to processes and training for police, judges and magistrates that would build greater awareness of the factors that cause a person to enter the justice system and why some groups are over-represented

Other key recommendations included:

  • Reforming bail laws, replacing the reverse-onus provisions with an unacceptable risk test
  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years of age
  • Ending the incarceration of children under 16 years of age
  • More support services for young adults in the justice system
  • Support for schools to better prevent and respond to offending behaviour
  • Greater investment in early intervention and diversion programs like Target Zero and the Youth Crime Prevention and Early Intervention Project
  • Changes to the fines and infringement system, including an expansion of the Work and Development Permit Scheme
  • Free public transport for children in low-income families
  • Processes for identifying and addressing misidentification of victim-survivors as family violence perpetrators

We welcome this opportunity to share the experiences of people in our community and to help to create positive change in the system.

We thank the committee members for their time and hope their findings will help to address some of these issues that are impacting local communities in the West and right across Victoria.

You can download our full submission here, read a full transcript of our evidence here and read our responses to questions from committee members here.

 
 
 
 

WE are located

  • Footscray
  • Werribee
  • Sunshine
Footscray

Level 1 / 72 Buckley Street, Footscray VIC 3011

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-1.00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Werribee

Level 1 / 8 Watton Street, Werribee VIC 3030

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Sunshine

Visy Cares Hub, 80B Harvester Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

Tel: + 61 3 9091 8237
Fax: + 61 3 9091 8207
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-4.30pm.

Drop-in service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30am-4.30pm, for people up to 25 years old ONLY.