There are opportunities to improve the effectiveness of post-sentence schemes by increasing access to treatment and rehabilitation services in custody and in the community for people at risk of reoffending.
We have made a range of recommendations in a submission to the legislative review of the Serious Offenders Act.
The Act was introduced in 2018 to create a post-sentence scheme for the preventative detention or supervision of people who have completed a prison sentence for a serious sexual or violent offence. The Act is designed to promote community safety by managing a person’s risk of reoffending.
These orders impose significant restrictions on people who have completed their prison sentence. They should only be used as a last resort after an evidence-based risk assessment, for the shortest time possible and operate consistently with the Charter of Human Rights.
Since 2018, we have provided legal advice and representation to the vast majority of people subject to a supervision or detention order under the scheme in Victoria.
Through this practice experience, we have found there are disproportionately high numbers of people with cognitive impairments and mental health issues on orders. We also see a disproportionately high number of First Nations people on orders.
In our experience people with complex needs are being placed on orders with onerous conditions they struggle to meet because they don’t have access to treatment options in the community to manage them in less restrictive ways.
There is also a lack of appropriate services to help people with complex needs to “step-down” or transition back to the community in a safe and sustainable way.
We also see instances where a person’s progress is measured by their compliance with the conditions of an order, rather than with initiatives to promote rehabilitation.
We have made a series of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the Act, including:
- A broader range of accommodation options, particularly for people with cognitive impairments or disabilities.
- More tailored and therapeutic support targeted at helping people transition off orders as quickly as possible.
- Ensuring there are culturally safe supports and services for First Nations people.
- Better tailoring of conditions on orders to support treatment and rehabilitation and reduce breaches.
- Additional training for Corrections Victoria staff to promote trust and ensure people are receiving access to appropriate treatment and rehabilitation supports.
- Clarifying the authority, transparency and oversight of the Post Sentence Authority.
Reviewed 25 April 2023