News & Events

ACSO Media Release – Parliamentary Inquiry

March 25, 2022

ACSO supports inquiry into a Victoria’s criminal justice system – government must act now to divert people away from a life of crime

The Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) is pleased to see its recommendations incorporated into a report examining Victoria’s criminal justice system.

Released and tabled in Parliament on 24 March, the inquiry provides an in-depth review of the state’s entire criminal justice framework with a particular focus on early intervention, the overrepresentation of vulnerable cohorts, policing, victims of crime, bail and remand, courts and sentencing, prisons and rehabilitation, and the judiciary.

For over 35 years, ACSO has successfully delivered programs and services to help break the cycle of people repeatedly entering the justice system. Our work supports, diverts or reintegrates people through a range of services including mental health, alcohol and other drug treatment, intensive residential support, case work, disability, housing and employment which span the entire justice continuum from prevention to rehabilitation.

[QUOTES FROM CEO: VAUGHAN WINTHER]

“ACSO continues to advocate that warehousing people in prisons is unnecessary and comes at great personal, social and economic cost. Australia needs a long-term solution to provide a genuine chance for people to avoid becoming trapped in the justice system and keep communities safe.”

“Being at the coalface of this sector for over three decades, we have seen first-hand the tremendous toll recidivism has on individuals, their families and the community as a whole. We congratulate the Committee for their diligence and breadth of reporting and urge the Victorian government to act now.”

According to the inquiry, statistics show an alarming trend in Victoria’s justice system over recent years. For example, unsentenced prisoners now comprise 87% of prison receptions (up from 60% in 2010). Between 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2020 Victoria’s prison population increased by 57.6%. This has disproportionately affected Aboriginal Victorians, young people, and women.

ACSO believes that all governments must be prepared to invest in community-based treatment and support that prevents offending. By not acting now to prevent people with significant social vulnerabilities from cycling repeatedly through our courts and prisons, we risk creating the next generation of people labelled as ‘serious violent offenders’.

For more information and media inquiries contact– Ruth Carr 0499 309 916