30 September 2020
Stock image of young men hanging out at a train or bus station

We must make better choices to stop children being locked up  

Analysis from the Sentencing Advisory Council show too many children are being locked away before being found guilty of a crime, due to a lack of basic supports like housing. It provides further evidence that imprisonment is not always a last resort for children in Victoria.

‘Our lawyers see children charged and remanded not because of the things they’ve done but because of issues in their lives.’ Read what our new program manager of Youth Crime, Amanda Carter has to say.

Putting clients first in designing family violence legal services

We are working with a range of people with a lived experience of family violence and the justice system, as we design legal services that are safe, easy to access and integrated in the family violence system.

Download the client-first approach we’re taking to our work in support of Victoria’s specialist family violence courts.

'I just smoke a bit of pot mate, I’m not a criminal’ why criminalising personal use of cannabis is the wrong approach

In a new submission we’ve shared our client David’s story. Cannabis offences make up about half of all drug arrests across Australia, more than any other drug. We see personal cannabis use as a health and social issue which should not attract a criminal penalty and put forward four recommendations for change. 

People doing Legal Aid work

Leanne Sinclair

Leanne Sinclair recognised as an emerging leader

Our associate director of Family Violence Response Leanne Sinclair joined an accomplished group of public sector women when she was named one of the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) in the Emerging Leader category at ​the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) awards.

Congratulating our dedicated staff

We 'd like to congratulate our outgoing program manager of Indictable Crime, Guillaume Bailin, for his appointment to the bench.

Replacing him as program manager is Emily Allan, who joined our Gippsland office in 2016. Finally, we're also excited to announce that our former manager of Therapeutic Courts Amanda Carter has been appointed as our new program manager of Youth Crime, filling the big shoes of Anoushka Jeronimous, who has moved to WEstjustice after 13 years at Victoria Legal Aid.

Panel practitioner updates

Supporting your clients in online hearings

Efforts across the justice sector have led to the swift adoption of online hearings in Victoria courts and tribunals, using Webex software. We have prepared a useful guide for practitioners to share with their clients if they have an upcoming online hearing to help them prepare.

It is designed for use in the Magistrates’ Court. It provides information about how to join a webex hearing and use key webex functions. It also walks clients through how to set up and prepare for an online hearing.

New Court of Appeals merits advice template

We have prepared a new template merits advice. We use these advices to decide funding applications for appeals against conviction and/or sentence to the Court of Appeal. This new template will make the process faster and easier for practitioners and counsel.

New Magistrates' Court Practice Direction

The Magistrates’ Court have issued Practice Direction 21 of 2020 that applies to regional courts. Despite the relaxation of social restrictions, all matters currently listed for hearing after 19 October, to the extent possible and as determined by the Court, will be listed for hearing in the Online Magistrates’ Court (OMC).
It provides processes to support the early identification of unrepresented persons and to link them to relevant services, and it reinforces, except for urgent and family violence-related matters, that people are not to attend at a regional court venue without the prior agreement of the local court registry.

Community news and notices

Raise the age panel discussion

Australia has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world, at just 10 years. A national campaign to raise the age to at least 14 aims to change this and give more children the chance to lead productive and happy lives. The Centre for Innovative Justice is hosting a panel discussion about the impacts that raising the age would have on the lives of children in Victoria.

Mental Health Week IMHA's fifth birthday

Independent Mental Health Advocacy recently turned five! To mark 2020 Mental Health Week IMHA is hosting an online panel discussion about progressing consumer leadership and rights in Victoria’s mental health system. RSVP for the event.

Human rights under COVID - a VLF panel discussion

The COVID-19 restrictions have put our human rights in the spotlight. We are all living with tension between our rights as individuals and our responsibilities as members of our community. The Victorian Law Foundation is running a panel discussion on 20 October on the impact and implications of COVID-19 on our human rights at The Law and You Forum.

If you have any community news that you would like included in this newsletter email editor@vla.vic.gov.au. Items will be published at the editor's discretion.

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Volume 205

This newsletter is authorised by Victoria Legal Aid, 570 Bourke Street Melbourne 3000.

Victoria Legal Aid operates on Aboriginal country throughout Victoria. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and respect their continuing connections to land, sea and community.

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