Victoria Legal Aid

Statement on bail reform progress

Bail reform is a step in the right direction to move us closer to the full implementation of Poccum's Law.

Sunday 8 October 2023 10:53pm

Working in courtrooms across Victoria every day, we know that bail reform is urgent and we welcome the progress made towards reform last week.

The changes will make a real difference – creating a fairer criminal justice system that is more responsive to the wide-ranging circumstances that can bring people in contact with it.

These changes are a good start but there is more to be done.

Children do not belong in custody and shouldn’t be subject to a presumption against bail.

It is disappointing that changes which would have gone a long way towards achieving this were deferred at the last minute.

We are concerned that this will result in continued harm to children who spend unnecessary time in custody.

This is why fairer bail laws for children and raising the age of criminal responsibility are an urgent priority.

We join in the calls for continued meaningful bail reform and support the advocacy of Veronica Nelson’s family and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal ServiceExternal Link .

Without these further changes, bail laws will continue to cause significant harm, compounding disadvantage and discriminating against some of the most marginalised in our community.

This includes:

  1. removing the presumption against bail for all offences
  1. granting access to bail unless the prosecution shows that there is a specific and immediate risk to the safety of another person, a serious risk of interfering with a witness, or a demonstrable risk that the person will flee the jurisdiction
  1. ensuring that a person cannot be remanded for an offence that is unlikely to result in a sentence of imprisonment
  1. removing all bail offences (committing an indictable offence while on bail, breaching bail conditions and failure to answer bail).

With more children being criminalised while in the care of the state, we also urge that work be prioritised to implement the Framework to Reduce Criminalisation of Young People in Residential Care and for those in other out-of-home care settings.

Strong implementation processes and monitoring of bail reforms are critical to ensure changes to the law translate into changing practices on the ground.

We are continuing to work closely with government and others in the legal sector to support youth justice reform and effective implementation of bail changes, based on our practice experience.

Media enquiries

Please contact Senior Communications Advisor Crys Ja on or 0457 483 780.

Reviewed 08 October 2023