Smart Justice for Women

About Smart Justice for Women

Smart Justice for Women (SJFW) is a subcommittee under the broader Smart Justice Coalition and is coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women.

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 by:

  • advocating for law reform, policy change and structural change
  • influencing community attitudes and promoting social change
  • providing leadership and expertise on issues impacting on women’s criminalisation
  • establishing a consultative body on issues impacting on women’s criminalisation
  • promoting information, knowledge, evidence and resource sharing between members
  • fostering a collaborative approach to service delivery within the legal assistance sector and across a range of sectors.


Smart Justice for Women’s purpose and priorities

There is an urgent need to stem the growth of women in prison in Victoria. The number of women in Victorian prisons has more than doubled over the past decade, with the number of Aboriginal women in prison more than tripling.

There is a clear link between disadvantage and women’s involvement with the criminal legal system. Most women who are drawn into the criminal legal system have experienced trauma, including childhood and adult victimisation, involvement with child protection, poverty, sexual abuse, and family violence. Without appropriate supports, these experiences can drive women to engage in behaviours that lead to them becoming criminalised.

SJFW has identified key reforms required in order to reverse the increasing incarceration and criminalisation of women, prioritising:

  • criminal legal system reform that recognises and responds to the unique needs of women
  • urgent investment in safe and affordable housing options for women
  • providing adequate resources for health and social services to support women at the first risk of criminalisation.

If you would like to know more about the coalition, please email [email protected].

Read more in Smart Justice for Women's Policy Platform 2022-24: Reducing the criminalisation of women in Victoria, available here.


Smart Justice for Women’s Victorian Election Platform 2022

SJFW is calling on Victoria’s political leaders to reverse the increasing incarceration and criminalisation of women through a two-pronged approach.

  1. Reduce harm and further entrenchment in the criminal legal system by reforming laws and practices that unfairly criminalise and incarcerate women. As a matter of priority, SJFW is calling for urgent reforms to bail laws, which will have an immediate impact on the number of women in prisons.
  2. Prevent women from becoming criminalised in the first place by improving their overall wellbeing through increased investment in prevention and support services, including urgent investment in safe and affordable housing options for women.

Read the 2022 Victorian Election platform here.


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