Research + Projects

Victoria Legal Aid Remand Review

The CIJ was commissioned for an independent review of VLA’s legal and non-legal services to people on remand.

Melissa Bell, Gunditjmara/Yorta Yorta Rain Coming Down #8, 2023.

There has been enormous change in the justice system over the past six years so VLA decided to review the services they provide to people on remand to ensure they can make improvements and provide the best services to their clients. Understanding that remanded people often have significant non-legal needs as well as legal issues, VLA wanted to better understand how lawyers and other professionals might provide a holistic, trauma-informed response to remanded people while working in a busy, time-pressured environment. Most importantly, VLA wanted to hear from people with lived experience of remand to make sure they could understand the problems of remand from the perspective of those with the greatest expertise on the issues.  

 The CIJ research team interviewed people with lived experience of remand, lawyers, administrative staff and professionals from organisations who work with people involved in the criminal justice system. Additionally, the research team consulted with a range of system stakeholders such as the Magistrates Court and Victoria Police, and gained insights from legal practitioners and services from other Australian states to gain an understanding of what ‘best practice’ might look like for VLA.  

 The review found that the remand system is extremely stressful for people on remand who do not have their non-legal needs met, and that lawyers and administrative staff work in a complex, time-pressured environment.  

 The CIJ has made many recommendations for improvement to VLA’s remand services, which VLA have started to implement. One of the most important recommendations made by the CIJ is that VLA should ensure that their services are always informed by people with lived experience.  

Full report

Summary report

For further information visit  Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) 

 

Key People

Stan Winford

Stan Winford

Associate Director of Research, Innovation & Reform

Stan is a legal and justice system expert with experience in innovation and reform, including user centred design and applications for restorative and therapeutic justice in criminal and civil law.

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Dorothy Armstrong

Dorothy Armstrong

Adviser & Peer Support Worker

Dorothy Armstrong is an advisor, lived experience expert and peer mentor. She works extensively across the disability and criminal justice sectors and provides advice on a range of issues relating to people with acquired brain injury involved in the criminal justice system.

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Megan Hughes

Megan Hughes

Senior Adviser, Research and Advocacy

Megan Hughes is a lawyer, writer and policy adviser with experience working in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

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Emily Piggott

Emily Piggott

Senior Adviser, Research and Advocacy

Emily is a social worker with extensive direct practice experience working with people with disability involved in the criminal justice system.

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James Davis

James Davis

Administrative Officer - Open Circle

James is an experienced administrator, having worked in many varied administrative roles over his career.

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