The Andrews Labor Government has committed to introduce a legislated spent convictions scheme to ensure old criminal records for eligible offences do not impact on an individual’s opportunity to gain employment and rehabilitate.
The commitment is part of the Labor Government’s response to recommendations of the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into a Legislated Spent Convictions Scheme, which was tabled today.
Historical criminal records can have a lasting, damaging effect on an individual, limiting their ability to gain employment, secure housing or undertake volunteer work.
Victoria is the only jurisdiction that does not have a legislated spent convictions scheme – under the scheme individuals who have previously committed an offence and have since demonstrated their ability to rehabilitate, will be given a chance to fully contribute to society.
An individual’s historical criminal record for eligible offences will no longer show up in a police check after a set period of time, if they do not reoffend.
Certain convictions, such as for serious sexual or violent offending, will not be eligible under the scheme to become spent.
In the interests of public safety, police and courts will continue to have full access to criminal history information.
In addition, complete criminal records will still be released for the purposes of enabling certain employers and third parties to make well-informed risk assessments.
This includes licensing for trusted professions, checks for working with children, and employment in sensitive government roles.
Following the Committee’s comprehensive inquiry, the Government is now consulting with stakeholders, including law enforcement, justice sector agencies, victims’ representatives and Aboriginal groups, to develop the detail of the scheme, including eligibility criteria.
Legislation will bring Victoria in line with all other jurisdictions across Australia who currently have legislated spent conviction schemes in place.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jill Hennessy
“This change will bring Victoria in line with other jurisdictions and recognises that historical convictions for eligible crimes should not stop people from accessing jobs, training and housing.”
“We will undertake a thorough review of existing schemes and research to deliver a fair scheme that keeps the community safe.”
“People who have committed eligible offences, who have worked hard to turn their lives around, deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential.”