Repealing public drunkenness offence a welcome reform

Repealing public drunkenness offence a welcome reform

Friday, 23 August 2019

We welcome the commitment by the Victorian Attorney-General to repeal the offence of public drunkenness and replace it with a health-based response. The announcement comes the week before the Victorian Coroner inquest into the death in custody of Tanya Day.

‘The repeal of the offence of public drunkenness is a significant and welcome reform that will make Victoria’s justice system fairer and more effective.

‘Policing is not the best response to a health problem, especially when it’s Victoria’s most marginalised who so often find their conduct criminalised.’ said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director of Criminal Law at Victoria Legal Aid. 

‘It’s well documented that Aboriginal Victorians were disproportionately harmed by an enforcement-based approach to public drunkenness. It’s good to see a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody being implemented, even after 30 years.’

‘We are happy with the announcement that the Victorian Government will replace an enforcement response to drunkenness with a health-based one.

‘We particularly welcome the commitment to co-designing the new approach with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations’ said Mr Nicholson

‘This reform will also relieve pressure on our overburdened Magistrates’ Court, freeing up time and space to better deal with family violence and other matters that actually need to be in court,’ said Mr Nicholson.

We have previously called for summary offences reform and a review of police charging and diversion practices, in our submission to the Royal Commission on Victoria’s Mental Health System.

We acknowledge the outstanding efforts of many advocates in achieving this change, including the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services, Human Rights Law Centre, and of course the family of Tanya Day.

More information 

Read our submission to the Royal Commission on Victoria’s Mental Health System.

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