Spent convictions – some good news
Victorian Parliament's Legal and Social Affairs Committee has recommended that a spent convictions scheme be legislated as a matter of urgency.
The CIJ’s work with Woor-Dungin and its partners advocating for spent convictions reform in Victoria took another big step forward on 27 August, when the Legal and Social Affairs Committee of the Victorian Parliament recommended that a scheme be introduced as a matter of urgency.
The recommendation comes after a four-month inquiry by the committee, chaired by Reason Party MP Fiona Patten. The committee also recommended the adoption of anti-discrimination provisions to support the operation of the scheme. In the Chair’s foreword, particular reference was made to the work of Woor-Dungin and the contributions made by the Criminal Record Discrimination Project.
You can read the committee’s final report here: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lclsic-59-01
It is hoped that given the strong recommendations of the committee, and the widespread support for such reform, the government will respond positively by introducing a legislated scheme. As the project has argued, such a scheme would ensure important outcomes can be met, including removing barriers to employment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ex-offenders, and enabling all Victorians to rehabilitate and contribute to their communities.
The government is required to respond within six months of the report being tabled in Parliament.
And you can read more about the committee’s historic trip to Gunditjmara country in southwest Victoria to hear firsthand about criminal record discrimination via the related content section below.
Meanwhile, on 12 and 13 September, Woor-Dungin with RMIT held a series of workshops at the Koori Heritage Trust in Federation Square for Aboriginal ex-offenders and employers wishing to hire Aboriginal people with criminal records.
CIJ’s Stan Winford and RMIT’s Professor Bronwyn Naylor presented on criminal record checks and research on employers and their approaches to making employment decisions. Patrick Warner and Rachel Gleeson from the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service presented on Working with Children Checks. Aboriginal people with lived experience also told their stories.
On both days, representatives of employers from the government, non-government and private sectors, as well as job placement agencies presented on their approaches and provided tips for job seekers. Both days were very well attended and positively evaluated, and there have been requests for the training to be delivered in regional Victoria. We hope these workshops result in more ex-offenders overcoming their pasts in order to find work and that we can also reduce the stigma around criminal history.