Fair and equal justice

BUDGET ANALYSIS

This is a long-form analysis of the Victorian Government’s investments in the justice system. For a quick summary of specific Budget program expenditure in this space click here.


VCOSS has long advocated for prevention and early intervention approaches to stop people from becoming involved with the criminal justice system – that is, ensuring people have safe and stable housing, adequate incomes and can access health and social services in their communities to address issues that place them at risk of becoming criminalised.

The 2021-22 Budget introduced an early intervention investment framework (EIIF), which aims to reduce the budget pressures caused by reliance on acute and crisis services.

An additional 16 initiatives have been funded in the 2022-23 Budget, many of which will have a direct impact on people at risk of or involved with Victoria’s justice system, including:

While these are sensible initiatives to improve justice system responses, this Budget again misses the opportunity to adopt a justice reinvestment strategy.

Under a justice reinvestment strategy, partners (including government) make longer-term investments in long-term change. Decisions and action are underpinned by new forms of community governance and funding structures. There is a strong focus on communities owning and controlling data and using that data to determine which interventions will deliver the best social and economic return on investment for their community. 

While there is $0.6 million provided in this Budget for data integration to support the EIIF to measure the benefits of the Government’s approach, it is not yet clear whether this data will be publicly available – under a justice reinvestment strategy, systems could be established to ensure that shared learning and evidence can be derived from place-based programs.

VCOSS continues to advocate for the adoption of a wellbeing approach to budgeting, which would assist the state to address risk factors for criminalisation at the population level.  

Under a justice reinvestment strategy, partners (including government) make longer-term investments in long-term change. Decisions and action are underpinned by new forms of community governance and funding structures.

The recent Inquiry into Victoria’s Criminal Justice Systemacknowledges thelink between socioeconomic disadvantage and increased risk of criminalisation and victimisation, and makes a number of recommendations aimed at prioritising early intervention and providing social supports to divert people away from the system.

This Budget provides welcome investments in a range of initiatives that respond to some of the long-standing justice system issues found in the Inquiry, including:  

VCOSS looks forward to the Victorian Government’s response to the Inquiry and future investment in criminal justice reform that prevents people from becoming criminalised in the first place, as well as ensuring people leave the justice system for good.


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