The Victorian Government’s commitment to introduce a legislated spent convictions scheme will allow people to turn their lives around, re-connect with community and contribute to society, says Jesuit Social Services.
“The introduction of a spent conviction scheme will help ensure that a person’s criminal record does not unfairly impact their ability to obtain employment and fully participate in the community,” says Jesuit Social Services Acting CEO Sally Parnell.
The introduction of the scheme will mean an individual’s historic criminal record (for eligible offences) will no longer show up in a police check after a set period of time – as long as they do not reoffend.
“Victoria has been the only jurisdiction in Australia without a legislated spent conviction scheme, so this move brings the state in line with the rest of the country,” says Ms Parnell.
“For 43 years, Jesuit Social Services has worked with men, women and young people who have contact with the criminal justice system. We see many people struggle to obtain employment due to their criminal record, which impact on their ability to secure housing and stay on a positive pathway. It can also have a negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.
“We note that the Victorian Government will now consult with key stakeholders to develop the details of the scheme, including eligibility. We believe the model should be based on the principle that everybody deserves a second chance, and we would support a process where eligible convictions are spent automatically instead of placing an administrative burden on vulnerable people.”
In its submission into a Spent Convictions Scheme in Victoria, Jesuit Social Services highlighted the disproportionate impact that a lack of a current scheme has had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities, and that listening to and respecting the experiences of these communities is vital in implementing the scheme.
“The introduction of a spent convictions scheme is important for marginalized people and communities. Instead of further entrenching disadvantage, the implementation of this scheme will allow people greater access to social and economic participation.”
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