On 15 December 2009, the Victorian Government passed new Regulations that declare the Adult Parole Board, the Youth Residential Board, and the Youth Parole Board (the Parole Boards) not to be "public authorities" for the purposes of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Victorian Charter). The effect of the Regulations is to allow the Parole Boards to continue to operate outside the regulation and human rights protections afforded by the Victorian Charter for a further four-year period until 27 December 2013. Previously, the Parole Boards had been exempted from the Victorian Charter by the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (Public Authorities) Interim Regulations 2007, which are due to expire in December 2009. The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for the Regulations outlines the underlying rationale for the continued exemption to be applied to the Boards, being that compliance with the Victorian Charter would require changes to the Parole Boards' current practices and that these changes would have a potential negative impact on the operation of the Boards. Essentially, the RIS asserts that compliance with procedural fairness obligations will impose on the Parole Boards a more stringent decision making process, inhibit the flexibility of the Boards' decision making and, consequently, undermine the effectiveness of the Boards in meeting their objectives.
On 26 November 2009, the HRLRC made a submission that the Parole Boards should not continue to be exempt from compliance with the Victorian Charter. In the HRLRC’s view, the human rights analysis contained in the RIS and rationale for continuing to maintain the Boards exempt from the Victorian Charter is misguided, and that compliance with the Victorian Charter would:
- improve the decision making processes of the Boards;
- enhance the confidence in the Boards’ decision making and thereby lead to an improved parole system; and
- ultimately, result in improved outcomes and better opportunities for the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into society.
For a copy of the Regulations, click here.