A spent convictions scheme means a fairer Victoria

A spent convictions scheme means a fairer Victoria

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

A woman looking to the horizon, with her back to camera

Today’s Bill legislating a spent convictions scheme for minor offences will mean Victorians who have carried the burden of past convictions through their lives will have a better chance at building a future for themselves.

'Victoria Legal Aid has long supported the creation of a spent convictions scheme,’ said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director of Criminal Law Services.

‘Too often, we see that a conviction – even for minor matters – stays with people even after they’ve served their penalty. It affects their ability to find work and participate in community life, which are important steps in helping people to reintegrate and live productive lives.’

In our submission supporting a spent convictions scheme, we spoke with Casey* who had had great difficulty finding work because of an old criminal record. Despite years of effort, she routinely found herself knocked back from work due to her past indiscretions.

Casey has managed to find work and is not yet eligible for her record to be cleared, but points out the difference this scheme will make for people like her.

‘My story looks like a success story, that I’ve been able to find meaningful work despite my offending, but really it’s a story of luck. And it shouldn’t be left up to luck. I was lucky that the roles I went for, the organisations and the people were willing to look past my offending and value my education and my experience. But in so many jobs and fields, that just isn’t the case, I wouldn’t get a second look in,’ said Casey.

‘My story looks like a success story, that I’ve been able to find meaningful work despite my offending, but really it’s a story of luck.'

‘The system should be changed so that everyone can have that experience – it should not just be up to luck. People with convictions should be able to get employment and move on from the cycle.’

‘While I wish this change included me already, and my conviction could be spent, I now have something to look forward to. Having my conviction spent will mean I won’t need to go through this process again and again, having to explain to an employer my past and rely on luck to move on from my past,’ said Casey.

‘Victoria is currently the only jurisdiction in Australia without a spent convictions scheme. This reform will ensure that convictions for offences like theft or minor property damage no longer cast an unreasonably long shadow over the lives of people who are no longer offending,’ said Dan.

More information

Read Casey’s story
Read our submission

 

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