The Andrews Labor Government today announced it will introduce new laws to make it easier for victims of crime to share their stories and experiences publicly.
The Labor Government will amend the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 to clarify the current law and change the way that publication restrictions in the Children’s Court apply to victims of crime.
Currently, a person must not publish, or cause to be published, a report of a Children’s Court proceeding that contains information that is likely to lead to the identification of a child, witness, or other party in the proceeding.
For example, under current laws, a victim who is a witness in a criminal matter in the Children’s Court could be subject to potential prosecution if they speak publicly about their experience.
Under the Labor Government’s planned reforms, victims will be explicitly excluded from this provision as it relates to the disclosure of their own identities.
The changes will apply to the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court, and it will remain an offence to publish a report that contains information which is likely to lead to the identification of a child accused, other party or witness.
These proposed changes are consistent with recommendations flagged by Justice Frank Vincent who is currently finalising his review of the Open Courts Act. Justice Vincent will provide his final report to Government at the end of this month.
The changes also respond to the concerns raised publicly by the Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies.
The Government will work with the Children’s Court on the proposed changes, and intends to include these in legislation to be introduced before the end of the year.
Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula
“The Children’s Court and the Director of Public Prosecutions provided advice about the law as it is currently drafted. In my view, that law needs to change.”
“Victims of crime should be able to tell their stories publicly without fear of prosecution. We will clarify this law to ensure they are protected if they want to share their experiences with the media and the public.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
"The Andrews Labor Government is supporting victims by allowing them to tell their story when they choose to.”
“We’re continuing to modernise our youth justice system after it was neglected by the previous Liberal government."
Quotes attributable to Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies
“This legislative amendment is a victory for victims of crime and for common sense.”
“I am delighted that the Government has acted decisively to rectify an outdated provision that simply served to further traumatise victims of crime.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020