Greens senator Lidia Thorpe says she has little faith in the Andrews government until public drunkenness is officially decriminalised in Victoria.
Under legislation passed earlier this year, being drunk in a public place will be treated as a medical issue, not a criminal offence. However, the new law will not come into effect until November 7, 2022.
The change in law was triggered by an inquest into the death of Aunty Tanya Day, 55, who was asleep on V/Line train in 2017 before being arrested for public drunkenness and taken to the Castlemaine police station where she fell and hit head at least five times. She died of brain injuries 17 days later in hospital.
The decriminalisation of public drunkenness was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, 30 years ago.
Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman, senator Thorpe said while the change is a positive one, until the legislation is implemented our people continue to be subjected to racist laws.
“They announced that last year, and they make everybody feel good about it, but the actual implementation is something like two years away. So, thanks, but that means our people are still subjected to these laws, and there will be an election in that two years… it’s typical Labor, promise the world and deliver nothing,” she said.
“I don’t at this point, have any faith until they actually change that legislation as soon as possible, because they’re still allowing people to be subjected to racist decision making that Police make at the end of day, and that the Court’s make, and even the Coroner’s Court make, and that doesn’t help anybody.”