Quotes Attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of VALS:

“The Victorian Government said punitive bail laws would make communities safer. In reality, these laws have led to a massive increase in the prison population, which has destroyed families and drained government resources away from communities.”

“In Victoria, the Aboriginal imprisonment rate has almost doubled in the last ten years. In 8 out of 9 months at the start of 2022, there were more unsentenced Aboriginal people in Victoria’s prisons than sentenced Aboriginal people.”

“There have been times where about 80% of Aboriginal women in Victoria’s prisons are on remand. Often these women are victims of domestic violence and they are usually primary carers for family members. Being unsentenced they have limited access to programs and essential supports. Putting them in a prison does not make the community safer, but it does do tremendous harm to the families and communities that rely on them.”

“Many of the people who are currently held on remand in Victoria’s prisons are facing minor charges that are unlikely to receive a prison sentence if they are found guilty. This leads to some innocent people pleading guilty so that they can get out of prison and get the help they need in community.”

“The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that bail be made more accessible, but Victoria has done the opposite. Some of the changes we want include repealing the reverse onus provisions, creating a presumption in favour of bail for all offences, and ensuring that all bail decision makers must be required to explain how they have discharged their obligation to consider Aboriginality in bail decisions.”

“Next week the Coroners Court will hand down findings for the Inquest into the passing of Veronica Nelson and I hope that is the catalyst we need to fix Victoria’s broken bail laws. In the Inquest, we submitted Veronica would not have died if it were not for Victoria’s harsh and discriminatory bail laws.”

“It’s clear that a lot of mistakes were made when the bail laws were changed in 2017. It is time for the Victorian Government to acknowledge those mistakes and fix them.”

“Reports that the Victorian Government are intending to reform Victoria’s bail laws is great news, but they need to commit to ambitious reforms.”

WE ACKNOWLEDGE AND PAY OUR RESPECTS TO THE CUSTODIANS OF THE LANDS ON WHICH WE WORK, COLLECTIVELY THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA.

273 High St, Preston VIC 3072

vals@vals.org.au

1800 064 865

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