The Victorian Government has welcomed the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 Report which was tabled in Parliament today.
The Victorian Government asked the Commission to review the Act and report on what may be done to improve its operation.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the Victorian Government would consider the Report’s 107 recommendations in detail.
“I would like to thank the Victorian Law Reform Commission for their comprehensive and informative report,” Mr Clark said.
“The report highlights a range of issues to help ensure people who may be unfit to plead are treated appropriately by the justice system and that the community is protected.
“The reforms suggested in this report include a range of legislative and procedural changes relevant to a range of government departments and agencies and all levels of courts.”
The report considers issues including the definition of mental impairment, the application of the Act in the Magistrates’ and Children’s courts, the process for determining fitness to stand trial and the operation of supervision orders.
“The Government is committed to ensuring those affected by mental impairment are treated justly and appropriately by the justice system while also ensuring that the community is properly safeguarded from the risk of further criminal acts,” Mr Clark said.
Mr Clark said the Victorian Government has already introduced legislation to amend the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act to provide the Children’s Court with power to hear cases where a child’s mental functioning is at issue.
“These changes relate to children who were mentally impaired at the time of an alleged offence or may be unfit to stand trial,” Mr Clark said.
“The changes will make specific provision for the Children’s Court to hear these cases and to make appropriate orders, thus avoiding the need for these cases to be transferred unnecessarily to the higher courts.
“These changes were introduced ahead of the VLRC’s report to enable the issues with the current law to be resolved. The Government will now consider whether any further changes should be made to provisions relating to children in light of the VLRC’s report.”