Media Centre

LAWS PASS TO STOP DISCRIMINATION AGAINST VICTORIANS

The Andrews Labor Government has sent a strong message that there is no place for discrimination in Victorian schools and workplaces, with landmark laws passed in Parliament today. Under the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021, religious organisations and schools will no longer be able to sack or refuse to hire people based on protected attributes such as sexuality, gender identity or martial status. Religious organisations and schools will only be able to make employment decisions based on an employee’s religious beliefs where these are inherent to the job such as a religious studies teacher, or a principal. The Bill recognises the rights of religious organisations and schools to continue to practice their faith, provide religious teaching and instil their religious ethos within their organisation. The legislation will not impact on how religious bodies can select priests, ministers, religious leaders or their members. In addition to the employment reforms, religious organisations that receive Victorian government funding to provide services will not be able to refuse to provide those services to people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Previous protections to prevent discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people were shamefully stripped back in 2011 by the former Liberal Government, and were also blocked by the Liberals from being reinstated in 2016. This left many teachers and other employees at religious organisations in fear of being outed to their employers, potentially risking their livelihoods where their sexuality, marital status or gender identity had nothing to do with their role. The Labor Government consulted extensively with LGBTIQ+ groups, education peak bodies, faith leaders and faith-based groups in drafting the legislation. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “It’s been a long journey to fix these gaps in our laws – I hope with these changes all Victorians can live authentically, free of fear and in no doubt that the law has their back too.” “Our reforms respect the independence of religious bodies while reducing critical gaps in protections against discrimination.” Quote attributable to Minister for Equality Martin Foley “These laws send a clear message that discrimination against LGBTIQ+ Victorians based on who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.”

LAWS PASS TO STOP DISCRIMINATION AGAINST VICTORIANS

The Andrews Labor Government has sent a strong message that there is no place for discrimination in Victorian schools and workplaces, with landmark laws passed in Parliament today. Under the Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021, religious organisations and schools will no longer be able to sack or refuse to hire people based on protected attributes such as sexuality, gender identity or martial status. Religious organisations and schools will only be able to make employment decisions based on an employee’s religious beliefs where these are inherent to the job such as a religious studies teacher, or a principal. The Bill recognises the rights of religious organisations and schools to continue to practice their faith, provide religious teaching and instil their religious ethos within their organisation. The legislation will not impact on how religious bodies can select priests, ministers, religious leaders or their members. In addition to the employment reforms, religious organisations that receive Victorian government funding to provide services will not be able to refuse to provide those services to people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Previous protections to prevent discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people were shamefully stripped back in 2011 by the former Liberal Government, and were also blocked by the Liberals from being reinstated in 2016. This left many teachers and other employees at religious organisations in fear of being outed to their employers, potentially risking their livelihoods where their sexuality, marital status or gender identity had nothing to do with their role. The Labor Government consulted extensively with LGBTIQ+ groups, education peak bodies, faith leaders and faith-based groups in drafting the legislation. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “It’s been a long journey to fix these gaps in our laws – I hope with these changes all Victorians can live authentically, free of fear and in no doubt that the law has their back too.” “Our reforms respect the independence of religious bodies while reducing critical gaps in protections against discrimination.” Quote attributable to Minister for Equality Martin Foley “These laws send a clear message that discrimination against LGBTIQ+ Victorians based on who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable.”

NEW HEADQUARTERS DELIVERED FOR WANGARATTA SES

The Wangaratta community will be better serviced and protected during an emergency thanks to a new state-of-the-art VICSES hub funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today marked the official opening of the new VICSES Wangaratta Unit, part of an emergency services precinct that includes a co-located FRV/CFA fire station and is directly opposite Wangaratta police station. The new unit includes a Divisional Control Point, which coordinates major response activities with other emergency services agencies – making it easier for everyone to work together in times of urgency. Additional features include four motor bays, a turnout area, a kitchen, training and operations room, offices, communications, and administrative areas. The unit has 26 active volunteers who responded to more than 148 requests for assistance between July 2020 and June 2021 and led the emergency services response to major flooding in the region in previous years. The new facility also reflects VICSES' commitment and dedication to the local community while supporting the retention and recruitment of new volunteers. The Labor Government has invested more than $125 million to build and upgrade VICSES facilities over the past five State Budgets to ensure the state’s emergency services volunteers are equipped with the resources needed to support Victorian communities. These projects are delivered on behalf of the government by the Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority, part of the Community Safety Building Authority. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “Time and time again, our VICSES volunteers have gone above and beyond to respond to emergencies and keep people safe – because they don’t just serve the community, they’re part of it.” “This new unit will support the selfless hard work VICSES does every day. We’ll always back our volunteers and help them to continue this important work keeping locals safe.”

NEW HEADQUARTERS DELIVERED FOR WANGARATTA SES

The Wangaratta community will be better serviced and protected during an emergency thanks to a new state-of-the-art VICSES hub funded by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today marked the official opening of the new VICSES Wangaratta Unit, part of an emergency services precinct that includes a co-located FRV/CFA fire station and is directly opposite Wangaratta police station. The new unit includes a Divisional Control Point, which coordinates major response activities with other emergency services agencies – making it easier for everyone to work together in times of urgency. Additional features include four motor bays, a turnout area, a kitchen, training and operations room, offices, communications, and administrative areas. The unit has 26 active volunteers who responded to more than 148 requests for assistance between July 2020 and June 2021 and led the emergency services response to major flooding in the region in previous years. The new facility also reflects VICSES' commitment and dedication to the local community while supporting the retention and recruitment of new volunteers. The Labor Government has invested more than $125 million to build and upgrade VICSES facilities over the past five State Budgets to ensure the state’s emergency services volunteers are equipped with the resources needed to support Victorian communities. These projects are delivered on behalf of the government by the Emergency Services Infrastructure Authority, part of the Community Safety Building Authority. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “Time and time again, our VICSES volunteers have gone above and beyond to respond to emergencies and keep people safe – because they don’t just serve the community, they’re part of it.” “This new unit will support the selfless hard work VICSES does every day. We’ll always back our volunteers and help them to continue this important work keeping locals safe.”

NEW TRAINING CENTRE FOR STATE’S CFA VOLUNTEERS

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers and other emergency services agencies will benefit from a brand-new training facility in the Central Highlands, preparing them for the summer season. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today officially opened the $31 million Central Highlands Volunteer Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC), funded by the Andrews Labor Government.   The new VEMTC facility is located on a 40 hectare site on the outskirts of Ballan, and is one of eight training centres operated by the CFA across the state. The VEMTC facility includes ‘live fire’ simulations with Practical Area Drills, firefighting props, specialist training and breathing apparatus facilities, and four classrooms. Another key feature includes an off-road driver training track which replicates various conditions a crew may encounter in real emergencies, such as water crossing, sand crossing, rough and uneven ground, mud, and stopping and starting on steep gradients. The off-road driver training track holds further sentiment for a number of CFA crews, with 11 CFA members honoured and several streets throughout the facility being named in their honour. Ensuring training scenarios are as life-like as possible will better equip CFA members with the skills and experience to respond effectively to real emergencies, improving the safety of all Victorians. The site can host up to eight groups at any one time including three groups training outdoors on the three drill areas, one group training on the off-road driving area, and another four groups learning in the classrooms. The newest VEMTC opening builds on the Labor Government’s continued strong support of the CFA and other emergency service volunteers, with $126 million in funding over five years provided for the CFA to keep its volunteers safe, prepared and well-equipped. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “Our emergency services put their lives on the line to keep us safe – this facility will make sure they’re ready to face any situation.” “This new training course is one of the best in the country – attracting more volunteers to our ranks and helping them start a lifelong, rewarding career.” Quotes attributable to Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle “CFA volunteers and emergency services keep our communities safe – they deserve the very best in training facilities.” “We know how important the role of our CFA volunteers and emergency services is protecting Victorian lives and properties, they need and deserve continued access to world-class training and education.”  

NEW TRAINING CENTRE FOR STATE’S CFA VOLUNTEERS

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers and other emergency services agencies will benefit from a brand-new training facility in the Central Highlands, preparing them for the summer season. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today officially opened the $31 million Central Highlands Volunteer Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC), funded by the Andrews Labor Government.   The new VEMTC facility is located on a 40 hectare site on the outskirts of Ballan, and is one of eight training centres operated by the CFA across the state. The VEMTC facility includes ‘live fire’ simulations with Practical Area Drills, firefighting props, specialist training and breathing apparatus facilities, and four classrooms. Another key feature includes an off-road driver training track which replicates various conditions a crew may encounter in real emergencies, such as water crossing, sand crossing, rough and uneven ground, mud, and stopping and starting on steep gradients. The off-road driver training track holds further sentiment for a number of CFA crews, with 11 CFA members honoured and several streets throughout the facility being named in their honour. Ensuring training scenarios are as life-like as possible will better equip CFA members with the skills and experience to respond effectively to real emergencies, improving the safety of all Victorians. The site can host up to eight groups at any one time including three groups training outdoors on the three drill areas, one group training on the off-road driving area, and another four groups learning in the classrooms. The newest VEMTC opening builds on the Labor Government’s continued strong support of the CFA and other emergency service volunteers, with $126 million in funding over five years provided for the CFA to keep its volunteers safe, prepared and well-equipped. Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “Our emergency services put their lives on the line to keep us safe – this facility will make sure they’re ready to face any situation.” “This new training course is one of the best in the country – attracting more volunteers to our ranks and helping them start a lifelong, rewarding career.” Quotes attributable to Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle “CFA volunteers and emergency services keep our communities safe – they deserve the very best in training facilities.” “We know how important the role of our CFA volunteers and emergency services is protecting Victorian lives and properties, they need and deserve continued access to world-class training and education.”  

MORE CAPACITY AND A FASTER FLEET TO KEEP VICTORIANS SAFE

Victoria will have 50 aircraft strategically placed across the state over the summer season to assist fighting fires and help keep communities safe. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today announced the 2021-22 aircraft fleet arrangements, which includes a mix of firebombing aircraft, air supervision and airborne information gathering aircraft. There is greater flexibility and firebombing capacity in this year’s fleet compared to previous years, with higher speed aircraft and increased carrying capacity. These enhancements provide a more modern fixed-wing and helicopter fleet, with technologically advanced systems. There are several new additions to the fleet this summer, including a CH47 Chinook with a capacity of 11,000lts, and a larger capacity Air-crane capable of holding 9000lts, and a Super Puma with a tank of up to 4000lts. Victoria will have two Large Air Tankers (LAT) based at Avalon Airport, one of which will be shared with Queensland and will be based in Victoria for our peak summer period. The new LAT Q400 can carry 10,000lt of water or retardant and has fast dispatch and turn around times. It also has short take off and landing capabilities making it more agile to move around the state, in line with changing risk. It can also operate from smaller regional airports as it requires less room for take-off and landing, making it more agile to move around the state, in line with changing risk. The Night Fire Aviation Program will continue this summer with the Chinook, our highest capacity helicopter, with a continued focus on initial attack and keeping small fires small. The Chinook can operate through the hottest part of the day and can continue into the night, to give firefighters the best chance to put fires out. The Victorian fleet will continue to provide immediate response in the early stages of fires and support firefighters on the ground to keep communities safe. Quote attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “These aircraft are always a critical weapon in our firefighters’ arsenal during summer, ensuring that Victoria has the strongest possible fire response each year as we head into the fire season.” Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio "These extra resources are vital for protecting our environment and communities as we respond to the risk of bushfire in a changing climate." Quote attributable to Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp “Our 50 aircraft will be strategically placed across the state according to risk and we can move them quickly to respond to fires anywhere. I’m confident that this aerial firefighting fleet will complement the great work that our firefighters do to keep our community safe.”

MORE CAPACITY AND A FASTER FLEET TO KEEP VICTORIANS SAFE

Victoria will have 50 aircraft strategically placed across the state over the summer season to assist fighting fires and help keep communities safe. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes today announced the 2021-22 aircraft fleet arrangements, which includes a mix of firebombing aircraft, air supervision and airborne information gathering aircraft. There is greater flexibility and firebombing capacity in this year’s fleet compared to previous years, with higher speed aircraft and increased carrying capacity. These enhancements provide a more modern fixed-wing and helicopter fleet, with technologically advanced systems. There are several new additions to the fleet this summer, including a CH47 Chinook with a capacity of 11,000lts, and a larger capacity Air-crane capable of holding 9000lts, and a Super Puma with a tank of up to 4000lts. Victoria will have two Large Air Tankers (LAT) based at Avalon Airport, one of which will be shared with Queensland and will be based in Victoria for our peak summer period. The new LAT Q400 can carry 10,000lt of water or retardant and has fast dispatch and turn around times. It also has short take off and landing capabilities making it more agile to move around the state, in line with changing risk. It can also operate from smaller regional airports as it requires less room for take-off and landing, making it more agile to move around the state, in line with changing risk. The Night Fire Aviation Program will continue this summer with the Chinook, our highest capacity helicopter, with a continued focus on initial attack and keeping small fires small. The Chinook can operate through the hottest part of the day and can continue into the night, to give firefighters the best chance to put fires out. The Victorian fleet will continue to provide immediate response in the early stages of fires and support firefighters on the ground to keep communities safe. Quote attributable to Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes “These aircraft are always a critical weapon in our firefighters’ arsenal during summer, ensuring that Victoria has the strongest possible fire response each year as we head into the fire season.” Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio "These extra resources are vital for protecting our environment and communities as we respond to the risk of bushfire in a changing climate." Quote attributable to Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp “Our 50 aircraft will be strategically placed across the state according to risk and we can move them quickly to respond to fires anywhere. I’m confident that this aerial firefighting fleet will complement the great work that our firefighters do to keep our community safe.”

 

STRENGTHENING POLICE OVERSIGHT FOR A FAIRER VICTORIA

Victorians will be able to shape improvements to the state’s police oversight system to ensure it is strong, transparent and meets the needs of our diverse communities. The Andrews Labor Government launched a systemic review into police oversight earlier this year, in line with recommendation 61 of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants and the 2018 IBAC Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry into the external oversight of police corruption and misconduct in Victoria. The review, now open for public consultation, will deliver a strengthened and more effective police oversight system that places greater focus on the needs of complainants and victims of police misconduct. Submissions are welcome from all Victorians, with input particularly sought from people who have lived experience of police misconduct and complaints mechanisms. Reviewers are also looking for input from Aboriginal people, children and young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, women and survivors of family violence, and people experiencing social or economic disadvantage on these vital reforms. This input will be invaluable in building an oversight system that better meets community expectations, ensures people feel safe in making complaints about police conduct and supports Victoria Police to uphold the highest standards of accountability and integrity. The review forms part of the Government’s ongoing work to reform the criminal justice system in the wake of the significant issues laid bare by the Royal Commission. The Government has provided $87.9 million to implement the Royal Commission recommendations, with significant work underway to deliver all recommendations. Victorians wishing to participate in the review can read the consultation paper, make a written submission or complete an anonymous survey on the Engage Victoria website at engage.vic.gov.au/systemic-review-police-oversight. The consultation will be open until 1 February 2022.   The Government expects to introduce legislation to reform Victoria’s police oversight system next year. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “It’s essential that we hear from Victorians as we work to strengthen the mechanisms for police oversight and accountability – to ensure that these systems work effectively for everyone.” “This review is an important component of our plan for strong and far-reaching reform to make sure that the events leading up to the Royal Commission never happen again.”

STRENGTHENING POLICE OVERSIGHT FOR A FAIRER VICTORIA

Victorians will be able to shape improvements to the state’s police oversight system to ensure it is strong, transparent and meets the needs of our diverse communities. The Andrews Labor Government launched a systemic review into police oversight earlier this year, in line with recommendation 61 of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants and the 2018 IBAC Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry into the external oversight of police corruption and misconduct in Victoria. The review, now open for public consultation, will deliver a strengthened and more effective police oversight system that places greater focus on the needs of complainants and victims of police misconduct. Submissions are welcome from all Victorians, with input particularly sought from people who have lived experience of police misconduct and complaints mechanisms. Reviewers are also looking for input from Aboriginal people, children and young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, women and survivors of family violence, and people experiencing social or economic disadvantage on these vital reforms. This input will be invaluable in building an oversight system that better meets community expectations, ensures people feel safe in making complaints about police conduct and supports Victoria Police to uphold the highest standards of accountability and integrity. The review forms part of the Government’s ongoing work to reform the criminal justice system in the wake of the significant issues laid bare by the Royal Commission. The Government has provided $87.9 million to implement the Royal Commission recommendations, with significant work underway to deliver all recommendations. Victorians wishing to participate in the review can read the consultation paper, make a written submission or complete an anonymous survey on the Engage Victoria website at engage.vic.gov.au/systemic-review-police-oversight. The consultation will be open until 1 February 2022.   The Government expects to introduce legislation to reform Victoria’s police oversight system next year. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “It’s essential that we hear from Victorians as we work to strengthen the mechanisms for police oversight and accountability – to ensure that these systems work effectively for everyone.” “This review is an important component of our plan for strong and far-reaching reform to make sure that the events leading up to the Royal Commission never happen again.”

NEW LAWS GIVING VICTORIANS A CHANCE TO MOVE FORWARD

Victorians with historical convictions who have demonstrated rehabilitation will be able to move on with their lives without the fear of past mistakes ruining their future, thanks to reforms from the Andrews Labor Government. The Spent Convictions Act 2021 comes into effect today and allows eligible convictions to become ‘spent’ if the person has not reoffended after a five-year period for young people, or 10 years for adults. A conviction that is spent will no longer appear on a police record check unless an exemption applies. Historical convictions are a burden some people have had to live with long after they have demonstrated their ability to live a crime-free and productive life – often facing unfair stigma and discrimination. In many cases these historical convictions are a barrier that limit a person’s full participation in society and their ability to find meaningful employment, access housing and participate in community events and volunteer work. All convictions for children aged under 15 will be immediately spent, providing them with an opportunity to turn their lives around. Convictions that resulted in sentences of 30 months or less will be eligible to be spent automatically after a five-year crime-free period for young people aged 15-20 and a 10-year period for adults. The new laws will benefit the most vulnerable members of the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young people, while balancing the need for public safety. Some more serious convictions, including for sexual or serious violence offences can only be spent upon application to the Magistrates’ Court, which will begin on 1 July 2022. The Spent Convictions Act 2021 includes sensible exemptions for police, courts and corrections to ensure they will continue to have access to full criminal history records. Complete records can continue to be released when required for certain employers and other agencies to make fully informed risk assessments based on public safety – such as checks for working with children or licensing.  The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 will also be amended to prohibit discrimination based on a spent conviction. This will enable people who have experienced discrimination to seek redress. A statutory review will commence once the Act has been in full operation for 12 months, allowing the government to review its operation and impact on the rehabilitation of vulnerable members of the community. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “This will make a significant difference for eligible Victorians – making sure mistakes of the past no longer impact people’s future.” “We acknowledge the tireless efforts of those who fiercely advocated for this change for many years – including the Aboriginal Justice Caucus and other Aboriginal stakeholders.”

NEW LAWS GIVING VICTORIANS A CHANCE TO MOVE FORWARD

Victorians with historical convictions who have demonstrated rehabilitation will be able to move on with their lives without the fear of past mistakes ruining their future, thanks to reforms from the Andrews Labor Government. The Spent Convictions Act 2021 comes into effect today and allows eligible convictions to become ‘spent’ if the person has not reoffended after a five-year period for young people, or 10 years for adults. A conviction that is spent will no longer appear on a police record check unless an exemption applies. Historical convictions are a burden some people have had to live with long after they have demonstrated their ability to live a crime-free and productive life – often facing unfair stigma and discrimination. In many cases these historical convictions are a barrier that limit a person’s full participation in society and their ability to find meaningful employment, access housing and participate in community events and volunteer work. All convictions for children aged under 15 will be immediately spent, providing them with an opportunity to turn their lives around. Convictions that resulted in sentences of 30 months or less will be eligible to be spent automatically after a five-year crime-free period for young people aged 15-20 and a 10-year period for adults. The new laws will benefit the most vulnerable members of the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young people, while balancing the need for public safety. Some more serious convictions, including for sexual or serious violence offences can only be spent upon application to the Magistrates’ Court, which will begin on 1 July 2022. The Spent Convictions Act 2021 includes sensible exemptions for police, courts and corrections to ensure they will continue to have access to full criminal history records. Complete records can continue to be released when required for certain employers and other agencies to make fully informed risk assessments based on public safety – such as checks for working with children or licensing.  The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 will also be amended to prohibit discrimination based on a spent conviction. This will enable people who have experienced discrimination to seek redress. A statutory review will commence once the Act has been in full operation for 12 months, allowing the government to review its operation and impact on the rehabilitation of vulnerable members of the community. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “This will make a significant difference for eligible Victorians – making sure mistakes of the past no longer impact people’s future.” “We acknowledge the tireless efforts of those who fiercely advocated for this change for many years – including the Aboriginal Justice Caucus and other Aboriginal stakeholders.”

NEW PATHWAY FOR RESOLVING INTERSTATE DISPUTES

Victorians will be able to resolve disputes involving an interstate party more easily with important new reforms now in effect. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Acts Amendment (Federal Jurisdiction and Other Matters) Act 2021, passed earlier this year and now in effect, improves access to justice by allowing the Magistrates’ Court to hear federal jurisdiction matters that VCAT cannot hear.   Federal jurisdiction matters are listed in the Commonwealth Constitution and include disputes between residents of different states – for example, a tenancy dispute between a Victorian resident and a landlord who lives in NSW. Recent Supreme Court and High Court decisions ruled that VCAT does not have jurisdiction to resolve federal jurisdiction matters, leaving Victorians involved in such disputes without a clear avenue for resolution. The reforms address this frustrating gap by providing a low cost, easier pathway for Victorians to apply directly to the Magistrates’ Court to have these matters heard. People across the state will benefit from the changes, with the scheme making use of the Court’s online capability and circuit court services as necessary to ensure that regional communities can access the new pathway. Parties will be able to apply in-person, by post or by email and fees will be the same as if the matters could be heard by VCAT. Self-represented parties can seek assistance with their applications from the Magistrates’ Court’s Self Represented Litigant Coordinator. The Act also ensures that where VCAT has made decisions in federal jurisdiction matters in the past, those decisions remain effective – giving parties in those matters certainty that their rights arising from VCAT orders can continue to be enforced and that actions they have already taken are effective. With the justice system still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, the Andrews Labor Government has invested almost $300 million since the start of the pandemic to speed up the resolution of matters, expand IT capabilities and remote-hearing services and appoint additional staff. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “These changes will ensure all Victorians have a clear, low-cost pathway to have their disputes heard and resolved – including those that involve an interstate party.” “By allowing Victorians to bring such matters to the Magistrates’ Court, the new laws mean that no one will miss out on access to justice when it comes to resolving disputes.”

NEW PATHWAY FOR RESOLVING INTERSTATE DISPUTES

Victorians will be able to resolve disputes involving an interstate party more easily with important new reforms now in effect. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Other Acts Amendment (Federal Jurisdiction and Other Matters) Act 2021, passed earlier this year and now in effect, improves access to justice by allowing the Magistrates’ Court to hear federal jurisdiction matters that VCAT cannot hear.   Federal jurisdiction matters are listed in the Commonwealth Constitution and include disputes between residents of different states – for example, a tenancy dispute between a Victorian resident and a landlord who lives in NSW. Recent Supreme Court and High Court decisions ruled that VCAT does not have jurisdiction to resolve federal jurisdiction matters, leaving Victorians involved in such disputes without a clear avenue for resolution. The reforms address this frustrating gap by providing a low cost, easier pathway for Victorians to apply directly to the Magistrates’ Court to have these matters heard. People across the state will benefit from the changes, with the scheme making use of the Court’s online capability and circuit court services as necessary to ensure that regional communities can access the new pathway. Parties will be able to apply in-person, by post or by email and fees will be the same as if the matters could be heard by VCAT. Self-represented parties can seek assistance with their applications from the Magistrates’ Court’s Self Represented Litigant Coordinator. The Act also ensures that where VCAT has made decisions in federal jurisdiction matters in the past, those decisions remain effective – giving parties in those matters certainty that their rights arising from VCAT orders can continue to be enforced and that actions they have already taken are effective. With the justice system still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, the Andrews Labor Government has invested almost $300 million since the start of the pandemic to speed up the resolution of matters, expand IT capabilities and remote-hearing services and appoint additional staff. Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes “These changes will ensure all Victorians have a clear, low-cost pathway to have their disputes heard and resolved – including those that involve an interstate party.” “By allowing Victorians to bring such matters to the Magistrates’ Court, the new laws mean that no one will miss out on access to justice when it comes to resolving disputes.”

PROTECTING WANGARATTA WOMEN IN TIMES OF CRISIS

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring women and girls across north east Victoria can get the support, services and safety they need in times of crisis. Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams visited Wangaratta today to announce a range of support for women suffering from family violence, natural disasters and the impacts of the pandemic. Women’s Health Goulburn North East has received $75,000 to work with local councils to ensure prevention of violence is considered in a councils’ disaster planning and response. The funding is delivering training to help council staff identify and respond early to family violence, as well as helping councils tailor emergency management plans to provide for the varying needs of women, men and gender diverse people in disasters. In addition, Women’s Health Goulburn North East are continuing to work tirelessly to keep women connected and improve mental health during the pandemic thanks to $100,000 to deliver their Women Gathering initiative online. The initiative brings women together to share experiences from major events such as droughts and fires, equipping participants with skills to establish and grow a strong network of local women. The funding helped develop a toolkit with tools and activities that is being used to assist women to generate strong connections with other women and reduce social isolation. To ensure women in north east Victoria have greater protection from violence the Labor Government has also invested $400,000 in Women’s Health Goulburn North East to help local organisations – like sports clubs, health services and schools – take local action to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. This funding is helping deliver awareness-raising campaigns, training on how to be an active bystander against sexist and disrespectful behaviours, and changes in workplace policies and practices that promote gender equality. Victoria is leading the nation with its work to end family violence, with more than $3.5 billion invested since the Royal Commission– more than every other state combined, and more than the Commonwealth. Quotes attributable to Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams “We’re making sure women can access the support and resources they need to stay safe, while also building the community’s ability to understand and stop family violence before it starts.” “Our regional communities are at their strongest and most resilient when women and girls have the support they need to recover and rebuild after all types of crisis, including violence, natural disasters and pandemics.” Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes “We need to reach every corner of the state to put an end to family violence. We’re helping North East communities tackle this issue in ways that’re tailored to what locals need and trust – from support for the Centre Against Violence, to the Orange Door Network and everything in between.”

PROTECTING WANGARATTA WOMEN IN TIMES OF CRISIS

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring women and girls across north east Victoria can get the support, services and safety they need in times of crisis. Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams visited Wangaratta today to announce a range of support for women suffering from family violence, natural disasters and the impacts of the pandemic. Women’s Health Goulburn North East has received $75,000 to work with local councils to ensure prevention of violence is considered in a councils’ disaster planning and response. The funding is delivering training to help council staff identify and respond early to family violence, as well as helping councils tailor emergency management plans to provide for the varying needs of women, men and gender diverse people in disasters. In addition, Women’s Health Goulburn North East are continuing to work tirelessly to keep women connected and improve mental health during the pandemic thanks to $100,000 to deliver their Women Gathering initiative online. The initiative brings women together to share experiences from major events such as droughts and fires, equipping participants with skills to establish and grow a strong network of local women. The funding helped develop a toolkit with tools and activities that is being used to assist women to generate strong connections with other women and reduce social isolation. To ensure women in north east Victoria have greater protection from violence the Labor Government has also invested $400,000 in Women’s Health Goulburn North East to help local organisations – like sports clubs, health services and schools – take local action to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. This funding is helping deliver awareness-raising campaigns, training on how to be an active bystander against sexist and disrespectful behaviours, and changes in workplace policies and practices that promote gender equality. Victoria is leading the nation with its work to end family violence, with more than $3.5 billion invested since the Royal Commission– more than every other state combined, and more than the Commonwealth. Quotes attributable to Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams “We’re making sure women can access the support and resources they need to stay safe, while also building the community’s ability to understand and stop family violence before it starts.” “Our regional communities are at their strongest and most resilient when women and girls have the support they need to recover and rebuild after all types of crisis, including violence, natural disasters and pandemics.” Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes “We need to reach every corner of the state to put an end to family violence. We’re helping North East communities tackle this issue in ways that’re tailored to what locals need and trust – from support for the Centre Against Violence, to the Orange Door Network and everything in between.”