The problem! Approximately 100,000 people sentenced in Victorian courts annually Criminal record checking as normative precursor to employment – risk management/ duty of care responsibilities of employers The Information Release Policy – Victoria Police Proportionality, inconsistency with sentencing principles, criminalisation & exclusion Special features – release of no conviction records, prove & dismiss, broad discretions, pending matters, ‘freedom’ to consent to disclosure of sensitive information… or not Absence of effective protections against discrimination
Significant reform opportunities where change didn’t happen… SCAG Draft Spent Convictions Bill (2009) DOJ Equal Opportunity Review & Final Recommendations (2010) Why?
Challenges to reform Political culture, & culture more broadly Position of peer advocates/ promotion of case work Balancing integrity & pragmatism – connection of casework experience with law reform objectives Holding broad alliances & focus in shifting environments Resources
New strategies Re-evaluating & reframing goals of reform – breaking down prejudice & stigma – pushing reform agenda that reflects needs of clients – sharing knowledge of community costs in terms of poverty, intergenerational/ family impacts, recidivism – reclaiming the right to work – building links with employers & employment agencies
And some more formal strategies ARC Research Partner with RMIT, Monash, AHRC, VHREOC, Jobwatch – into employer attitudes to criminal records – upcoming forum November 2012 Working with pro bono firms 4 public interest casework & to support advocacy endeavours in the absence of funding Building new strategic alliances to enhance opportunity for meaningful reform
Reflections 1.Resilience and adaptability to changing environments 2.Creative approaches to resourcing what needs to be done 3.Change can take a long time, & can be happening even when you don’t notice it 4.Case study