“This is not a soft on crime issue, this is an issue where people need to give us the opportunity to be key players here in Australia, to be upstanding members of the community, you can’t do that if you have a criminal record hanging over you like a black cloud.”
Uncle Larry Walsh, Taungurung Elder
On 13 December, three years of hard work by the many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stakeholders involved in Woor-Dungin’s Criminal Record Discrimination Project (CRDP) culminated in a submission to the 49th statewide Aboriginal Justice Forum, held in Swan Hill, Victoria.
The CRDP, a Woor-Dungin-led collaboration between community and legal organisations, was established to respond to calls from Woor-Dungin’s Aboriginal partner organisations for a response to the range of negative impacts their communities face as a result of the unregulated disclosure of, and inappropriate reliance on, old and irrelevant criminal history.
These impacts include social and economic exclusion and poor justice and health outcomes, all of which limit the capacity of Aboriginal Victorians to achieve self-determination.
The CRDP’s submission provided specific examples of these negative impacts through detailed case studies and developed a model, based on extensive consultation with community, for a spent convictions scheme and anti-discrimination protections. The submission called on the Aboriginal Justice Forum to endorse these legislative recommendations.
The recommendations were unanimously endorsed by Koori Caucus members and RAJAC representatives and will now be taken by Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation Greg Wilson to the Victorian Attorney-General.
The endorsement of the submission’s recommendations represents an outstanding outcome, one which everybody involved in the CRDP over the past three years has a right to be truly proud of.