Victoria’s bail laws must be overhauled in order to create any ‘meaningful’ change, legal groups have warned.
The state government has committed to reforming its Bail Act after a coroner’s report into the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Veronica Nelson found it was “incompatible” with the charter of human rights and discriminatory to Aboriginal people.
Following the Bourke St massacre the Victorian government introduced provisions for a wide range of offences that require defendants to show why they should be on bail, rather than having prosecutors convince a court why that person should remain in custody.
Those changes were a “complete disaster”, coroner Simon McGregor said last month, resulting in people who present no risk to community safety being remanded in custody.
But premier Daniel Andrews this week would not guarantee planned reforms to the bail act would involve removing the presumption against bail.
Chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Nerita Waight, said she’s concerned the government’s plan won’t result in any meaningful change to laws that have seen the imprisonment rate of Aboriginal women almost double.