Justice inquiry puts victims first

Speech

March 24, 2021

Legal and Social Issues Committee

Criminal justice inquiry report tabled

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (10:17):

It gives me great pleasure to speak to this report tabled today for the Legal and Social Issues Committee inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice system. This is something that I have intended to do since the day I was elected to this Parliament.

First, I would like to thank the chair and committee members as well as Lilian Topic, Matt Newington and other committee staff for their support throughout this enormous inquiry.

The physical size of the report, as you have seen, is an indication of the work required, including background research, compiling information from the 170 submissions and evidence from 50 public hearings through to supporting the deliberations and drafting of the final report and recommendations.

I pay tribute to the many victims that contributed to this inquiry, both through written submissions and in hearings, and I welcome some of them who are in the gallery today.

The sharing of their experience demonstrates the deep and enduring suffering that comes from the impact of crime. My referral to the committee was born from these experiences, and I stand here today to say: I hear you, and this report is for you—sorry, I am so emotional about this. I also thank the organisations who work across the broad justice space, who dedicate themselves to difficult and important work.

When I brought my motion to the Parliament back in June 2020 to refer this inquiry to the Legal and Social Issues Committee, I noted that significantly driving down crime has to be the goal that we all share—that and supporting victims of crime. With more than 50 per cent of people incarcerated in Victoria going on to re-offend, we simply must stop this.

I wanted the committee to investigate the drivers of recidivism—how we safeguard our community against these serious violent offenders, but also ensure our corrections system is sufficiently corrective in its actions and outcomes. We have considered the opportunities for reform to break what is often a downward spiral of offending for those caught up in crime, but also how to limit the lifetime of suffering for those victims and survivors.

Motion agreed to.