This is a selection of recent law reform activity in Victoria, not limited to reforms connected to the VLRC. For a complete list of laws currently being considered by Parliament, visit the Victorian Parliament website. To find out about and have your say on current Victorian Government inquiries, visit engage.vic.gov.au.
23 May 2023
The Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Bill 2023 received royal assent. It amends the Disability Act 2006, especially in relation to the sharing of information about persons with a disability and persons subject to restrictive practices and supervised treatment orders; residential services; and the compulsory treatment of persons with an intellectual disability.
16 May 2023
The Human Source Management Bill 2023 was passed and assented to, implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants. The Bill sets out the process for the registration, use and management of Victoria Police’s human sources and establishes an external oversight model.
16 May 2023
The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) Bill 2023 received royal assent. This Bill provides for the ongoing licensing of the operation of a medically supervised injecting centre.
2 May 2023
The Building Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 had its second reading in the Legislative Council. It amends the Building Act 1993 and the Architects Act 1991 and some other relevant Acts. It provides for the appointment of a State Building Surveyor and makes changes to how building is regulated in Victoria.
31 March 2023
Have your say on the big issues facing Victoria. One of the best ways to have your views heard is by making a submission to a parliamentary committee inquiry. The Victorian Parliament already has a range of inquiries seeking submissions from the community on issues stretching from stamp duty to improving organ donation rates, ensuring sub-contractors are paid, native bird hunting and many other topics. Here is a round up of current inquiries by parliamentary committees.
28 March 2023
The Health Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023, which will make it easier for hospitals and health services to share information about patients’ health records, received royal assent. Under the regime, from February 2024 public hospitals and services will be able to electronically share patient data – such as health conditions, allergies, medication, medical images and laboratory results – through a centralised database.
24 March 2023
The final report of the Cultural Review of the Adult Custodial Corrections System, Safer Prisons, Safer People, Safer Communities was released. This independent review “examined the culture, experiences, systems and processes within Victoria’s prisons and correctional centres. It drew on research, data and the direct testimony of people who have experience of the corrections system to develop recommendations that will promote a safer corrections system characterised by respect, equality, transparency and support. In recognition of the continued over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody, the Review also looked carefully at Aboriginal cultural safety and self-determination.”
9 March 2023
The Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Parliament has commenced an Inquiry into increasing the number of registered organ and tissue donors. The Committee is particularly interested in receiving input on the effectiveness of the current model for registering to be an organ and tissue donor in Victoria, as well as the issues that impact donation rates in the state. Submissions are due by Friday 19 May 2023.
9 March 2023
The Children and Health Legislation Amendment (Statement of Recognition, Aboriginal Self-determination and Other Matters) Bill 2023 now before Parliament proposes amendments to embed recognition of Aboriginal self-determination across child protection and health. It is intended to to allow greater Aboriginal-led service delivery and improve outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and communities.
8 March 2023
The Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Raise the Age) Bill 2022 had its second reading and is currently being considered by the Legislative Council. Its purpose is to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14 years.
6 March 2023
The government has undertaken to reform Victoria’s Bail Laws. The Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes has said that the ‘reverse onus test’ which puts the onus on accused people to give a reason why they should get bail, would be removed for low-level offenders.
14 February 2023
New driver distraction road rules will come into effect across Victoria from 31 March 2023. The new rules will extend existing mobile phone rules to cover in-built vehicle systems, mounted devices, wearable and portable devices such as smartwatches and tablets. Motorists caught driving distracted will receive penalties of four demerit points and a $555 fine.
8 February 2023
The Road Safety Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2023 was introduced into Parliament. The Bill will amend the Road Safety Act 1986 to provide that medicinal cannabis that does not impair driving must be treated in the same manner as other prescription drugs.
9 December 2022
The Standing Council of Attorneys-General (SCAG) participants agreed to release a draft report on the Age of Criminal Responsibility. It recommended that the the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception. Previously, in March 2022 the Parliament of Victoria’s Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee had recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14.
30 August 2022
Public drunkenness will be decriminalised in Victoria from November 2023. The commencement date of this reform was postponed by one year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. See the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2022.
10 May 2022
Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022: Decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria will occur in two stages with parts of the act commencing from 10 May 2022 as part of stage one. Stage one relates to:
- the decriminalisation of street-based sex work in most locations
- the repeal of offences for working with a sexually transmitted infection and requirements to undergo regular STI testing
- the repeal of offences for individual sex workers not using safer sex practices
- the repeal of the small owner-operator sex work service provider register
- changes to advertising controls applicable to the sex work industry
- amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
7 June 2022
Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Act 2022: The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) will be replaced with an administrative Financial Assistance Scheme. The new scheme will enable victims of violent crime to access support and financial assistance more easily, without going to court. Reforming state-funded financial assistance for victims of crime was recommended in the VLRC’s 2018 review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996. View the government statement on the new scheme.
5 April 2022
Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2022: Legislates integrated birth certificates for adoptees and improved identity information accessibility under the Adoption Act 1984. These relate to VLRC recommendations in our 2017 review of the Adoption Act 1984. Victorian Government Press Release.
Victoria Police will trial the Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment (SASH) tool at Prahran and Morwell stations to identify stalking behaviour and assess risk posed to victims. Referred to in VLRCs stalking inquiry (2022 Interim Report).
29 March 2022
Justice Legislation Amendment (Trial by Judge Alone and Other Matters) Act 2022: Legislates prosecution to notify victims of their right to appear at a criminal proceeding and the availability of legal assistance in relation to an application to use their confidential communications. The court must not grant leave to produce protected evidence unless the court is satisfied the confider has had reasable opportunity to obtain legal advice. VLRC recommended this in the 2016 Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process inquiry.
24 March 2022
Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System: The Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Parliament tabled its Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice System. The report recommends the State Government adopt a more modern and rehabilitation-focused approach to justice in Victoria, particularly in relation to the Bail Act 1977 and Victims Charter Act 2006. The report also recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.
16 March 2022
Workplace Safety Legislation and Other Matters Amendment Act 2022: Removes perpetrator notification and attendance at Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal hearings related to family violence or sexual offences. VLRC recommended this in our 2018 review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996.
10 March 2022
The Government responded to the Parliamentary inquiry into responses to historical forced adoptions in Victoria.