Yoorrook Justice Commission cautiously welcomes bail law reform as an important first step

For media enquiries, please contact Evan Schuurman 0408 847 385 or [email protected]

March 6, 2023

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has cautiously welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that the 2018 bail laws will be overhauled.

Yoorrook has heard extensive evidence about the disproportionate impact the laws are having on First Peoples in Victoria, in particular Aboriginal women living in unstable situations.

In February, commissioners visited four Victorian prisons where they held roundtable discussions with First Peoples, including with women and men who were imprisoned on remand.

The Commission is also holding public hearings on systemic injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems. Numerous witnesses have called on the Victorian Government to reform bail laws to stop people being unnecessarily imprisoned in pre-trial detention.

Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Professor Eleanor Bourke, said:

“It is pleasing to see the Victorian Government finally respond to this issue, which has been raised over and over again in the past five years, including during Yoorrook’s public hearings and prison visits, and, notably, in the inquest into the death in custody of Veronica Nelson.

“Yoorrook Commissioners will look closely at the detail of these proposed changes and the extent to which they address the flaws in the system that have been identified by witnesses.

“We anticipate hearing stories of significant trauma and injustice from witnesses at hearings this week. Overhauling the 2018 bail laws is only the beginning of what is needed to end the systemic injustice faced by First Peoples in Victoria’s justice system.”

Yoorrook’s public hearings can be streamed via the Yoorrook website, with regular updates provided on the Yoorrook Twitter account. The witness schedule can be found here.

ENDS

Media enquiries: Evan Schuurman, 0408 847 385, [email protected].

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