Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System – September 2021

On 3 June 2020 the Victorian Legislative Council agreed that the Legal and Social Issues Committee would conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Justice System. This Inquiry has broad scope to inquire into and report on a range of matters relating to Victoria’s criminal justice system. This includes an analysis of the factors influencing Victoria’s increasing prison populations, and strategies to reduce re-offending. The final report from this Inquiry is due on 28 February 2022.

Djirra’s submission draws on our unique insight as a specialist family violence Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the fastest growing prison population in Victoria. Djirra’s submission highlights the connection between family violence and the other intersecting factors that contribute to the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Djirra makes a number of recommendations that focus on bail and sentencing reform; the failure of the criminal justice system to identify family violence; lack of access to culturally appropriate legal representation and support services; lack of services in community to keep women out of the justice system; women in prison with disability; mothers in prison; impacts on children, including child removal; best practice early intervention and prevention programs; and the establishment of a Victorian Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner.