Victorian government agrees to some recommendations, but not all


Separate recommendations such as a new police oversight body, splitting this role away from IBAC, preventing racial discrimination through legislation, and improving access to pre-charge cautions have been listed as under consideration, meaning they require more time and work.

A similar approach will apply to significant reforms to justice and child protection, including a proposal to decriminalise offences linked to homelessness, disability and mental health. The same recommendation also urged some indictable offences to be classified as summary offences and these matters be referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission by February 29.

A smoking ceremony was held before the Yoorrook Justice Commission released its first report.

A smoking ceremony was held before the Yoorrook Justice Commission released its first report.Credit: Jason South

The Allan government rejected a recommendation the state’s human rights charter be altered so that individuals can bring cases to VCAT and seek compensation when they believe the charter has been breached. It said this would be a significant expansion of VCAT’s purpose.

Reforms to bail have also been rejected, with the government already legislating its own changes to the adult system and abandoning plans to provide the presumption of bail to children.

Yoorrook called for the age of criminal responsibility to be immediately raised from 10 to 14. The Allan government does not support this and is pursuing its own timeline to raise the age to 12 by the end of the year and plans to increase this to 14 by 2027.

Yoorrook chair Professor Eleanor Bourke said commissioners expected to see progress on the 15 recommendations still under consideration.

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“The report provides a roadmap to transform Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems and create a better future for all Victorians. Commissioners stand by all the recommendations contained in the report,” she said.

“Given the weight of evidence presented throughout the inquiry, which included deeply personal accounts from First Peoples witnesses of suffering which many continue to experience every day, Commissioners are disappointed by the government’s decision not to support three recommendations.

“Recommendations regarding the Bail Act and the minimum age of criminal responsibility and detention are crucial given the alarming over-incarceration of First Peoples adults and children, and ongoing deaths in custody.

“These recommendations were not made lightly. They go to the heart of addressing ongoing injustice against First Peoples.

“Additional accountability hearings may be called later in the year in which government representatives will be required to provide updates on recommendations and their implementation.”

Treaty and First Peoples Minister Natalie Hutchins thanked those who had participated in the inquiry so far.

“Treaty and Truth, led by Aboriginal people, is the best way to deliver improved outcomes and close the gap,” she said.

“Every Yoorrook Justice Commission inquiry allows the Victorian Government to develop a deeper understanding of the discrimination that has been built into state government policies and approaches.”

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