DHJP has long believed that the rights of victims should be prioritised over the rights of criminals. Unfortunately, this is not always common practice in Victoria’s legal system.
Since the election of two DHJP MPs in Victoria in 2018, the Victorian Government has placed victims’ rights at the fore with many legislative reforms including the abolishing of some court hearings that would require victims to recount their experiences in a trial many times, the further protection of emergency services workers from assault, tougher penalties for dangerous drivers, fixing mistakes by the Government with regard to sexual assault victim-survivors being able to speak their name (the #LetUsSpeak campaign) and many, many others.
But the work is not over.
DHJP is committed to an overhaul of our ‘justice’ system, including:
– Tougher penalties for crimes including for crimes and sexual offences involving children, strangulation, family violence especially where children are present, hoons and people who drive dangerously, crimes where a person dies or is seriously injured and many others.
– More appropriate sentences such as Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelets for those who are repeat drink drivers or have committed multiple offences under the influence of alcohol. The Magistrates’ Court are currently considering a trial and this program has been very successful in the UK and South Dakota.
– Reform CCOs – Community Corrections Orders are a farce. In his policing days, Stuart once heard a magistrate tell the court that CCOs were useless. Data backs this up too with more than 50% of people on CCOs breaching. We should look at new options such as ‘swift, certain, fair’ techniques that are successful overseas.
– NOT watering down our bail and parole laws, despite calls by the Greens and others to do so, ensuring high-risk offenders are not walking the street committing further offences.
– Expanding the Drug Court to more regional areas including Geelong and Mildura.
– Expanding the Victims’ Legal Service – DHJP were successful in getting funding for a Victims’ Legal Service in the 2021-22 Budget but it was only seed funding; the service needs to be fully functional as a matter of priority to assist victims of crime with legal issues.
– Scrutinising the appointment of judges and magistrates to ensure our judiciary are reflective of community sentiment.
– Reducing the availability of suppression orders drastically, so case details are public and allow for greater scrutiny by the public. This would be limited to ensure victims are not identified against their wishes.
– A new offence for ‘grab and drag’ – Stuart and Derryn Hinch were successful in asking the Victorian Law Reform Commission to look at the prospects of introducing a new offence for grabbing and dragging a person, noting the trauma such a crime can cause to a victim.
– Shifting the narrative on mental impairment defences in criminal trials – We want defence laws to change from ‘not guilty by mental impairment’ to ‘act proven but not criminally responsible’ to deliver justice for victims and their families.
Alcohol and Other Drugs
DHJP is also committed to ensuring any offender who has an addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs has access to help. Whilst we do not excuse crime due to someone’s AOD use, we acknowledge that without addiction there are many offenders who otherwise wouldn’t offend. DHJP is committed to lobbying the Government to build additional detox and rehabilitation facilities, especially in regional Victoria. One such facility is The Lookout in Warrnambool, which Mr Grimley hopes to see up and running within the next few years.