Criminal Record Discrimination Project consultation a great success

Recently another milestone was reached by Woor-Dungin’s Criminal Record Discrimination Project (CRDP).

On 4 April 2017 a consultation was held with representatives from our Aboriginal partner organisations and a range of other stakeholders to seek the views of community on the best approach to advocate for a spent convictions scheme in Victoria and the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation.

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Currently Victoria is the only state in Australia that does not have spent convictions legislation. It is also legal for employers to discriminate on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record, since Victoria is one of several states without equal opportunity protection for people with criminal histories.

The conference, attended by around 20 people, was held at the law offices of Ashurst in Melbourne and was facilitated by Michael Bell, CEO of Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation and convenor of the CRDP Advisory Committee.

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A discussion paper prepared by Stan Winford, Associate Director of RMIT University’s Centre for Innovative Justice and convenor of the CRDP Law Reform Working Group, was presented at the consultation. The paper contained feedback from community and stakeholders about how the lack of legislative protection affects Aboriginal people in Victoria and information about spent conviction schemes and equal opportunity protections in each Australian state and territory. The discussion paper also included proposals for reform, with which there was almost unanimous agreement among the attendees.

The consultation will help to inform the development of a Woor-Dungin position paper, which will outline the draft content of a legislated spent convictions scheme in Victoria and a draft amendment to the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act.

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Woor-Dungin will seek support and endorsement for the model for reform proposed in the position paper in a report to be tabled at an Aboriginal Justice Forum later this year. This report will also contain the stories of Aboriginal Victorians interviewed by CRDP project workers, and will show that current legislation in Victoria is a barrier to achieving economic reform and self-determination and does nothing to stem rising rates of Aboriginal incarceration.

Read more about the Criminal Record Discrimination Project here.