The Review’s recommendations constitute the most significant and wide-ranging reform to the corrections system in decades. The recommendations have policy, funding, legal, cultural and operational implications that must be considered thoroughly and planned for carefully.
While work has started on a number of recommendations now, many will be the subject of detailed engagement and consideration over time to ensure we get it right. Work will also be guided and informed by recommendations from other reports and inquiries, including:
- Coronial Inquests
- the Yoorrook Justice Commission
- Victorian Ombudsman
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
- and others.
The Department will work closely with corrections staff and their representatives, human rights experts, Aboriginal stakeholders, service providers and people with lived experience to inform the next stages of consideration over the short, medium and long term.
New engagement mechanisms will be established and existing stakeholder forums will be engaged to develop detailed advice and an implementation plan. These forums will include the Aboriginal Justice Caucus (AJC), Women’s Correctional Services Advisory Committee and LGBTIQ+ Justice Working Group, along with other key stakeholders.
We will listen to and work closely with those who are affected on a day-to-day basis to ensure a safer, more modern and better-supported adult custodial corrections system.
Along with advice from stakeholders and other inquiries, the Report will be a crucial document that continues to guide the transformation of our corrections system over the next decade.
Engaging with Staff
As recommended by the Review, the Department will establish mechanisms to ensure its work is informed by staff expertise, and that staff have a voice to inform service delivery.
The Government will also consult directly with corrections workers and their representatives.
Partnership with Aboriginal communities
The Review made a number of recommendations to strengthen the cultural responsiveness of the corrections system, to better support Aboriginal staff and Aboriginal people in custody.
The Government acknowledges the ongoing and devastating impact of colonisation on Aboriginal Victorians, and the direct link to their over-representation in the justice system. The Review, and many Aboriginal stakeholders, have made clear that significant change is required to make Victoria’s custodial system more culturally safe for Aboriginal staff and people in custody.
The Government will continue to work with Aboriginal communities and stakeholders – including the AJC, First Peoples’ Assembly, and Aboriginal legal, health and justice organisations – to deliver meaningful change as part of our ongoing commitment to the Aboriginal Justice Agreement phase four, Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja, the Yoorrook Justice Commission, and the Treaty process.
Engaging with people with lived experience
In line with best-practice policy making and the recommendations of the Review, our work will be informed by advice from people with lived experience of the custodial system – including the establishment of a lived experience reference group and charter.
Significant reform is already underway in a number of areas. The Government has implemented a range of initiatives to improve the corrections system and its focus on rehabilitation. Since 2018, the Government has invested more than $2 billion in infrastructure upgrades to ensure our prisons are fit-for-purpose and safe for staff and people in custody.
The Government also recognises that maintaining connections to family and community support – including during rehabilitation and the transition out of custody – is critical. That’s why we’ve invested more than $140 million over the last four years in services and programs designed to improve employment pathways for men and women in prison, strengthen family relationships and reunification, boost transitional support and improve access to housing for people leaving the corrections system – particularly those at risk of homelessness. A new model of publicly delivered healthcare is also commencing in all women’s prisons this year.
This response also sets out some of the work already underway, as well as work starting this year, to better support our workforce. That work includes stronger mental health and wellbeing services, technology to minimise strip searching practices and clearer guidance on the use of separations and force. In partnership with the AJC, Corrections Victoria has delivered an Aboriginal Employment Policy that will improve attraction, retention and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.