The Victorian Council of Social Service is concerned by proposed new mandatory sentencing laws in Victoria.
Today, a coalition of organisations—including VCOSS—is releasing a joint statement denouncing these unfair and ill-advised laws.
All workers have a right to feel safe at work. But mandatory sentencing will compromise the working relationships that are necessary between professionals at critical incidents.
Community workers shouldn’t have to worry that a call for support in times of crisis will result in the person they are trying to help ending up in prison.
Joint Statement – United opposition to unfair and dangerous mandatory sentencing laws
We, as leaders of Victoria’s community, family violence, youth, drug and alcohol and community legal sectors, unanimously oppose the introduction of mandatory sentencing laws by the Andrews Government.
We provide services to families who are in crisis. We know first-hand these laws will impact ordinary Victorians. The laws are wide reaching, requiring a prison sentence for anyone who injures an emergency worker, police, protective service officer and prison officer, no matter how minor the injury.
We strongly support measures that build greater safety for our dedicated emergency service workers, however these new laws will not achieve this.
We are concerned that these laws have been drafted without any input from our community and the people we represent. These laws are far reaching. They have the potential to impact all Victorians, particularly those most vulnerable and people in distress. The laws will change the way community services call on emergency services in times of crisis. For the safety of the community, these laws need to be stopped now.
In particular, we are extremely concerned about the impa
ct on Victorian families, who when their children are experiencing a crisis, will be too afraid to call for help. When people and families in our community are in distress, they need to trust that they can call emergency services for help, and not face sending their traumatised children to jail.
We believe these laws will undermine extensive investment and efforts to support family violence victim-survivors. Instead of making it easier to report family violence, the threat of mandatory jail time means many women will fear calling for help.
If the Andrews Government was serious about its’ agenda to end the disproportionate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, this legislation would have been better thought through. Every day we work with people who live with the consequences of over-policing and racial profiling and we know that these laws will result in more prison time for Aboriginal people.
Our message to the Premier is simple: the Government does not understand the impact of these laws – they place people at serious risk. We call on Premier Andrews to halt the changes before they become law.