The Victorian Greens will today reintroduce a bill that would reform the state’s broken bail laws in a bid to reduce the over-incarceration of First Nations people, women and children, and prevent deaths in custody.
The Greens have said if the Victorian Labor Government doesn’t introduce a bail reform bill in the next three months, the party will bring their private member’s bill to a vote.
The bill will be substantially unchanged from the bill the Greens introduced to the previous parliament.
Last month the coronial inquiry into the death of Veronica Nelson handed down its damning findings.
The coroner found that Victoria’s current bail laws were having a discriminatory impact on First Nations people, describing the Victorian Labor Government’s changes to the Bail Act in 2018 as ‘a complete and unmitigated disaster’.
The coroner recommended urgent reform of the Bail Act, in particular the provisions that have adverse effects on First Nations people.
The bill being introduced by the Greens today would abolish the ‘reverse onus’ tests, that impose a presumption against bail, and replace it with a simplified process in which the prosecution would need to establish an accused person was an unacceptable risk to the community in order to deny bail.
Victorian Greens acting justice spokesperson, Dr Tim Read, said discrimination placing unsentenced First Nations people and women in prisons was a direct result of the bail laws put into place by the Victorian Labor Government, and continues today.
He said countless reports and evidence had made clear the need for urgent simplification of the convoluted bail laws, and that the Government shouldn’t waste another minute, given it had previously ignored the many warnings from the First Nations community, lawyers, and the Greens.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens acting justice spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“If you haven’t been convicted of a crime, you generally shouldn’t be in jail.
“Yet Victoria’s bail laws continue to disproportionately imprison First Nations people and women, most who have not yet been sentenced.
“We know what needs to be done, the Government has known since 2019. In fact, there are vulnerable people in pre-trial detention as we speak, for no good reason.
“We need urgent and meaningful bail reform, that doesn’t just tinker around the edges.
“The Greens will be introducing a bill to do exactly that today, and if the Government doesn’t move in the coming months, we’ll bring that bill to a vote.
“The tragic death of Veronica Nelson must be a turning point for this government to end the unmitigated disaster of its politicised justice policies.”