The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) provides input into the Inquiry into Spent Convictions by the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee regarding spent convictions.
VACCA's submission directly responds to s3 of the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry: in considering the need for and design of a legislated spent convictions scheme, the Committee should have regard to the experience of groups in our community who suffer particular disadvantage due to past convictions, such as young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Victoria is the only state or territory not to have a legislated spent convictions scheme, nor does it protect against discrimination on this basis.
VACCA are deeply concerned that the ramifications of not having a legislated spent convictions scheme, nor protection against discrimination is unfairly affecting the opportunity of those affected in the Victorian Aboriginal community, particularly Aboriginal children and young people, to reintegrate into society, and to effectively rehabilitate due to discrimination on the basis of their criminal record.
VACCA are also concerned that with the introduction of working with children checks (WWCC) for all kinship carers that having a criminal record, without a spent convictions scheme, will negatively impact and deter potential community members from becoming kinship carers.
The safety of children and young people remains VACCA's paramount concern, however where someone has a criminal record for committing an unrelated minor criminal offence, we do not want to further impede their ability to care for their family in a safe and nurturing home
These high rates of incarceration and detention have a strong correlation with a greater risk of fill health, substance misuse, complex health conditions and premature death.