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Infringement Trial Working Group

Jun 8, 2022 | News, Parliament

My question is for Minister Tierney, representing the Minister for Police. During the second-reading debate on the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Decriminalisation of Possession and Use of Drugs of Dependence) Bill 2022 it was said that the government will convene an infringement trial working group to give advice to the Minister for Health and the Minister for Police on possible trial options. I have been led to believe that this working group has already been formed, so I ask: could the minister share with us the membership of that working group?

Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:01): I thank the member for his question and his ongoing interest in this area. What I can confirm is that the working group has met and work is underway, just as the Attorney-General on 9 March indicated. The working group does have representatives from the Department of Justice and Community Safety, the Department of Health and Victoria Police. There are also justice partners, such as Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Drug Court. There are also representatives from health partners, representing people who have lived experience, and also Aboriginal health services, youth support agencies and the Penington Institute. I am not in a position to disclose the individual names of the working group, but I would like to reassure you that they are senior members from their relevant organisations and experts in their respective fields. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them for agreeing to be part of the working group. I look forward to following the progress of this group, and I am sure that if you want to follow that up even further the Minister for Police, the Minister for Health and the Attorney-General would be happy to take your questions.

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:02): Thank you, Minister. Has the government decided on the terms of reference for this working group, and if so, could you share them?

Infringement Trial Working Group

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Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:03): I thank the member for his supplementary. There are terms of reference. They cover primarily four areas of work. One is approaches to drug offending that divert adults, children and young people away from the criminal justice system and their current operation in Victoria. The second is around opportunities to improve cautioning and diversion programs in Victoria to better support the efforts to address low-level drug offending as a health issue as well as a justice issue. The third is options for using infringements as an additional enforcement tool for low-level drug offending in Victoria. The fourth is recommendations for steps in implementing advice should the working group’s preferred options be accepted—for example, the timing and phasing of changes. But again, if you are wanting further information or indeed a copy of the terms of reference, I am sure that the Minister for Police, the Minister for Health and the Attorney-General would be willing to provide that.

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