Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to put forward our views on the Sentencing Advisory Council’s issues paper on the creation of a sentencing guidelines council in Victoria.
As a starting point, we affirm the long standing principles of our judicial system, including:
- The independence of the judiciary
- The presumption of innocence
- The protection of the public, including victims of crime
- The speedy resolution of issues regarding a person’s detention
- Prison as a last resort.
As well as highlighting the need to maintain these key principles, we recommend that:
- The new Sentencing Guidelines Council should include a representative from the Koori Court, preferably as co-Chair, as well as a legal representative with strong sector background and experience relating to vulnerable groups (e.g. children and young people, people with an acquired brain injury [ABI] or cognitive impairment, and those with alcohol, drug and/or mental health issues).
- Council engage with a wide range of groups to ensure the views of those working alongside or on behalf of vulnerable groups is incorporated as central to the Council’s process.
- A requirement to publish an impact or resource assessment alongside any draft or final guideline is critical (using Racial Equity Tools as an example)
- People with an ABI form a particularly vulnerable group – and implementing recommendations from the Enabling Justice Projectwill help improve access to justice for people with an ABI in Australia.