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Law Institute of Victoria responds to justice sector investment

Law Institute of Victoria responds to justice sector investment

By LIV Media

Access to Justice Child Welfare Courts 

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The Law Institute of Victoria welcomes the state government’s commitment to tackling the causes of crime in Victoria.

In what is largely a maintenance budget, with an emphasis on infrastructure such as a new jail, the LIV applauds initiatives in crime prevention.

“The increase in police resources and the $1.8 billion spend on prison infrastructure must be matched by a commensurate spend on rehabilitative services to keep people out of prison in the first place,” .

A sum of $93 million will go towards programs and services focused on addressing the root causes of crime.

The LIV notes the allocation of $28.8 million to reduce youth offending, with another $15 million to follow next year. This money will be spent on early intervention and diversion programs, targeting young people. The LIV also welcomes a fast track remand program in the Children’s Court.

However, LIV president Stuart Webb pointed out that funding items focused on reducing youth offending seemed to be short term spends rather than a commitment to ongoing programs that target the factors that drive offending behaviour in young people.

The LIV also supports the initiatives to reduce offending by women through funding mental health services and programs to help Aboriginal women.

Adding to prevention initiatives, is a substantial spend in one on the most urgent crime categories - family violence. $85 million has been allocated for men's behaviour change programs and intensive management of violent offenders.

After funding 450 extra child protection workers last year, $30 million has been provided to hire another 44 this year.

The LIV is pleased with the fulfilled election promise build a new Bendigo Court, but aging infrastructure in regional courts generally still needs attention.

The $6 million extension of the Court Integrated Support Program (CISP) to the County Court is welcomed.

While legal aid funding receives a 6% increase over three years, this merely tracks CPI and does not take account of the increase in population and legislative changes that are bringing an increased number of people in contact with the justice system.

“We’re getting 3000 more police but we’re not providing commensurate downstream resources to support the increase pressure this will place on the courts and legal aid to address the consequent demand on those services,” Mr Webb said.

The LIV has suggested that Justice Impact Statements should be used to understand downstream effects of significant policy decisions, such as employing so many new police. This approach will provide a holistic view of the sector when placing resources in one aspect of the justice system needs resources provided in the remainder of the sector. The LIV will continue to advocate for this approach.


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