The department’s 2022-23 Annual Report highlights the department’s many achievements and progress towards our vision.
Supporting our communities through emergencies
In October 2022, significant flood events affected communities across wide parts of Victoria. In response to this emergency, the State Control Centre was activated for 12 weeks. This multi-agency work provided a continuous service at a time when the Victorian community needed our support.
Also in October 2022, Emergency Recovery Victoria was established as a dedicated ‘all emergencies’ entity, responsible for recovery coordination at the state and regional levels and relief coordination at the state level. Emergency Recovery Victoria coordinated state relief and recovery from the floods, in addition to supporting the continued recovery from the 2019–20 Eastern Victorian bushfires and the June 2021 storm and floods.
Improving justice for Aboriginal people
The department continued to deliver the Stolen Generations Reparations Package to help address the lasting trauma and suffering caused by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families, culture, and Country. As of 30 June 2023, 659 applications have been received, with reparations payments approved for 378 applicants. This includes 100 advance payments to applicants who are terminally or critically ill.
The Yoorrook Justice Commission’s inquiry into the systemic injustices Aboriginal people experienced within Victoria’s criminal justice and child protection systems continued, with public hearings held in May 2023.
The Secretary, along with other members of the department’s leadership team and justice ministers, provided evidence to the Commission regarding the systemic racism and mistreatment of Aboriginal people in the justice system. There was widespread acknowledgement that the criminal justice system needs to improve to address the injustices felt by Aboriginal people. The department will play a critical role in supporting change, through our work in supporting self-determination and addressing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system.
Reforms to support a fairer justice system
Significant legislative reforms progressed this year to support a fairer and more accessible justice system for all Victorians.
The application process for the Spent Convictions Act 2021 , which allows individuals with more serious convictions to apply to the Magistrates’ Court to have their conviction spent, commenced in July 2022. The Act limits the disclosure of criminal record information to provide fairer employment, training, and housing opportunities for vulnerable Victorians.
The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2022 includes reforms to change the way sexual violence is dealt with in Victoria. Significantly, amendments were made to adopt an affirmative consent model to provide greater victim-survivor protections and shift the scrutiny from victim-survivors to perpetrators.
The Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Act 2022 commenced in December 2022, creating a new summary offence of intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in public. This Act makes it clear that the dissemination of Nazi and Neo-Nazi ideology is not welcome or tolerated in Victoria.
New fit-for-purpose justice infrastructure
In April 2023, new infrastructure opened at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre to provide fit-for-purpose facilities for women in prison. The infrastructure is designed around trauma-informed principles that aim to improve rehabilitation and the wellbeing of women entering the prison system.
Additionally, construction of the Cherry Creek Youth Justice Precinct was completed this year. The facility includes specialist design features such as an intensive intervention community, specialised primary health centre, and two mental health units, as well as educational and training opportunities offered on site. These features are critical to improving rehabilitation outcomes for young people and better supporting our staff. The opening of the Cherry Creek precinct represents a new era for Victoria’s youth justice system, making way for the closure of the Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct by the end of 2023.
Ensuring a safe Victoria
New artificial intelligence-enabled road safety cameras designed to detect distracted driving and seatbelt wearing offences were deployed on 31 March 2023 for a three-month Advisory Letter period. More than 700 letters a month were sent to drivers notifying them of detection during this period.
To address the drivers of radicalisation and help prevent all forms of extremism in high-risk individuals, a Countering Violent Extremism Multi-Agency Panel and case management schemes were legislated, with referrals to the scheme commencing in 2023.
Improving access and reducing harm
In December 2022, the department released the Accessibility in Action: Disability Action Plan 2022–26 . The plan sets out how we will make our systems and workplaces more inclusive and accessible for people in the community and staff with disability.
The new Victims Legal Service was launched on 14 March 2023 to support victims of crime. The service provides information and assistance to victims of crime in Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal and restitution and compensation order matters, and is delivered in partnership through Victoria Legal Aid , Aboriginal legal service providers and Community Legal Centres.
Legislative changes passed through Parliament in September 2022 to respond to several recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence. Other recommendations relating to harm and anti-money laundering are progressing, highlighting the department’s ongoing commitment to responsible gambling.
Liquor Control Victoria was established on 1 July 2022 to support the regulation of the liquor industry. The regulator is implementing new powers that are focused on minimising liquor-related harm.
These are just some of the notable achievements that have been supported by the Department of Justice and Community Safety this year, while the department maintained its strong focus on service delivery and improvement.