This is where you will find recent and past submissions, reports and statements from the Federation of Community Legal Centres. Alongside our members, we fight for economic and social justice, and proudly seek to reshape justice and create more equitable laws.
We want a community that is fair, inclusive and thriving: where every person belongs and can learn, grow, heal, participate and be heard.
Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021: Submission
The Federation of Community Legal Centres believes the proposed Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 is a welcome change to Victoria’s pandemic response.
Developed in consultation with Federation member Community Legal Centres (including Inner Melbourne Community Legal, Human Rights Law Centre, Youthlaw, Justice Connect Homeless Law, WEstjustice and Tenants Victoria), the Federation largely welcomes the intention of the new legislation to increase accountability, transparency, community oversight and proportionality to pandemic management in Victoria.
The Federation also recognises the complexity in balancing the protection of public health, human rights and access to justice. This submission makes 13 recommendations to amend the draft legislation to ensure an even-handed approach that is fair, just and equitable for all Victorians during a public health crisis.
Inquiry into Victoria's Criminal Justice System - Federation of Community Legal Centres
The Legal and Social Issues Committee has an inquiry into Victoria's Criminal Justice System.
The community legal sector in Victoria has advocated for evidence-based approaches to criminal justice issues for decades.
Investing in early intervention, community-based support and diverting people from the criminal legal system is the most effective approach to prevent offending and to reduce recidivism.
Our recommendations include reform to bail laws, sentencing laws, parole and diversion, as well as raising the age of criminal responsibility and improving police accountability.
Inquiry into Victoria's Criminal Justice System - Smart Justice for Women
Smart Justice for Women (SJFW) is a subcommittee under the broader Smart Justice Coalition coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria Inc. SJFW includes members from the Community Legal Sector, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Community Services Sector, Legal Assistance Sector, academia and other organisations with an interest in reducing the criminalisation of women in Victoria.
The role of SJFW is to reduce the criminalisation of women in Victoria through advocating for law reform, policy change and structural change, influencing community attitudes and promoting social change, and providing leadership and expertise on issues impacting on women’s criminalisation.
This submission, provided on behalf of Smart Justice for Women for the Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System, is endorsed by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.
Review of Victims' Experience of Summary Criminal Proceedings
Under the Victims' Charter, the Attorney-General is required to review the changes that are needed to improve victims' experience of summary criminal proceedings.
Victims of crime must be involved in decision-making, supported to participate in criminal justice processes, and provided with the information they need, to feel heard, recognised and respected throughout the process.
We recommend that the focus of any reforms to improve victims’ experience of summary criminal proceedings should be improving access to support services and community legal assistance for victims from the outset, when they first experience a crime.
Pathway to Decarceration: A Justice System Response to COVID-19
High rates of community transmission in Victoria and positive COVID-19 tests of people in the prison system, including staff, means there is an immediate risk that COVID-19 will further enter the prison system in Victoria and become increasingly difficult to contain.
Given the high rate of ‘churn’ or movement within the system, there is also a significant public health risk should an outbreak in prison occur, placing additional pressure on the health care system and emergency services and putting Victorian lives at risk.
The Federation of Community Legal Centres and the Law Institute of Victoria have developed a nine-point plan to reduce the number of people in the prison system in Victoria, thereby reducing the threat of COVID-19 throughout the system and the wider Victorian community.
The Pathway to Decarceration: A Justice System Response to COVID-19 sets out a clear pathway for the Government to reduce the potential impact of the current pandemic while maintaining a fairer response to justice in Victoria.
Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor 2020: Review
The Victorian Government needs to establish a centralised governance structure to better address family violence issues, our joint submission to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor has recommended. The Federation of Community Legal Centres has worked with Women’s Legal Services Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid to prepare this joint submission in response to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor’s call for submissions to inform the Monitor’s 2020 report to Parliament.
Four years ago the Royal Commission into Family Violence handed down its final report and recommendations; our joint submission presents an overview of the impact of the changes implemented and suggestions for how to move forward to better address family violence within our community. It states the Government should be commended for its world-leading Royal Commission which found significant change was needed. However the Government needs to invest more time in planning and implementing its family violence reform package.
Next Steps for Equality: 2020 Budget Submission
Budgets are about people, and the choices we make about the kind of society we want to live in. As Victorians, we are privileged to live in a progressive state that prides itself on inclusivity and fairness. The Andrews government has implemented many positive reforms to advance equality. But, many people are still struggling to make ends meet or access the support they need. It’s time for our next steps.
Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria
Every one of us has the right to a safe and stable home. A place to return to, to use as a base and foundation. But in Victoria, it is becoming harder and harder to access safe, stable and affordable housing. Women who have survived family violence often face unfair evictions, can’t make rent payments due to debts racked up by partners, or can’t access social housing due to long waitlists. Victorians facing mental health crises can be discriminated against in private rentals and public housing, and deal with criminalisation when sleeping on our streets. The Andrews government must take immediate action and provide more social housing, wraparound supports for communities, and abolish laws that criminalise people who don't have a home to go to.
Read our full submission here.
Raise the Age: Submission to Council of Attorneys-General
Prison is no place for a child, especially one who is too young to open a Facebook account. The current age of criminal responsibility in Australia is 10 years old, which means that grade 4 children who are still learning how to spell, tell the time and remember their times tables are being put behind bars. We urge governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14, with no carve outs to this position. Children and young people need support, safety, education and community - not prison cells.
Read our submission to the Council of Attorney's General here.