Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to respond to the inquiry into a spent convictions scheme in Victoria.
Many of the people we work with struggle to obtain employment due to their criminal record, which can negatively impact their overall mental and physical well-being. We can’t expect people to turn their lives around if they don’t have access to a secure roof over their head and the opportunity to contribute to society through education and employment.
Jesuit Social Services supports the introduction of a spent convictions scheme in Victoria to ensure a person’s criminal record does not unfairly impact their ability to obtain employment and fully participate in society.
In Victoria, a legislated spent convictions scheme that would allow people not to disclose old convictions for minor offences is long overdue. As the committee is aware, Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia without a legislated spent convictions scheme.
In our view, any model should be founded on the recognition that all people deserve a second chance. Once a person is sentenced to prison, our focus should be on their effective rehabilitation.
In our submission, we state that a protracted waiting period for people who commit relatively minor offences should be avoided. We also support a process where eligible convictions are spent automatically.