Media release

24 January 2023

Fitzroy Legal Service joins in calls from Aboriginal, legal, and human rights organisations for the urgent reform of Victoria’s bail laws.

People are innocent until proven guilty, and bail should provide for a person who is no risk to the community to be released from custody until they face the charges alleged against them. Our current bail laws however make it extremely hard for people to get bail, even when facing allegations of minor crimes.

“Imprisonment should be an option of last resort. We must reform the bail laws and reinstate bail as an expectation and a right except in the most serious of cases.” says Fitzroy Legal Service CEO, Kristine Olaris.

“It is clear that our system is broken. Our current bail laws commit people who have not been found guilty of an offence to months in prison for charges that wouldn’t ordinarily result in a prison sentence.”

There is widespread evidence that, rather than increasing safety for Victorians, the bail laws are incarcerating women and Aboriginal people and people accused of low-level, non-violent offending.

“The bail laws have a gendered impact, and are disproportionately harmful particularly to women experiencing family violence, homelessness, and who require mental health care. Short periods on remand are damagingly disruptive – to housing, employment, family connection and social supports in the community. Tragically, the bail laws have also had a human cost” says Fitzroy Legal Service Principal Lawyer, Hui Zhou.

“We look forward to the suite of recommendations by the Coroner in Inquest into the death of Veronica Nelson, and urge the government to act with urgency and intention to ensure that injustice does not prevail.”

About FLS
Fitzroy Legal Service (FLS) has worked with the Victorian community since 1972 to achieve access to justice and more equitable legal outcomes. FLS provides legal information, advice, casework, and representation in the areas of civil law, family violence, family law and criminal law, with a specific focus on working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by law and policy, and those who face systemic barriers to accessing justice due to poverty, race, discrimination, and disability. FLS provides duty services at the Specialist Family Violence Court at Heidelberg, is collocated at Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Collingwood, provides a dedicated phone service for incarcerated peoples, as well as various integrated and multidisciplinary outreach programs reaching communities of colour, LGBTIQ+ communities, and people who use drugs.

For more information on the gendered impact of the bail laws, see:

Media contact: Hui Zhou, Principal Lawyer. PH: 0401 747 361.

Other news

March 26, 2024
FLS welcomes new volunteers for 2024 
Read post ›
March 15, 2024
FLS submission to amend Australia’s Family Law Act  
Read post ›
February 29, 2024
Message from the CEO – February 2024  
Read newsletter ›
FLS 2024 Trainee Lawyer
February 29, 2024
Welcoming FLS’s 2024 Trainee Lawyer
Read newsletter ›
A message from the CEO, January 2024, Hamish McLachlan
January 31, 2024
Message from the CEO – January 2024  
Read newsletter ›
January 18, 2024
Fitzroy Legal Service doors remain open this Invasion Day
Read post ›
Hamish McLachlan
January 9, 2024
Introducing FLS Interim CEO, Hamish McLachlan  
Read post ›
November 28, 2023
In the future, people like Thuy will no longer face unfair barriers
Read post ›
November 8, 2023
FLS announces CEO departure following a legacy of purposeful growth
Read post ›
Solicitor and former Australian Government Solicitor, Michael Kingston
October 24, 2023
Five minutes with former FLS volunteer, Michael Kingston
Read post ›
June 30, 2023
Reflections on a harm reduction intervention in the Inquest into Veronica Nelson’s passing
Read article ›
Human Rights News
June 19, 2023
Victoria Police breaches human rights and its own policies at cannabis legalisation rally
Read article ›
May 26, 2023
FLS submission on a medically supervised injecting service in the City of Melbourne
Read post ›
March 31, 2023
Q+Law: A new legal service with and for LGBTIQA+ communities
Read article ›
March 10, 2023
FLS joins calls for a Supervised Injecting Service in the CBD
Read article ›
October 13, 2022
Vale Uncle Jack
Read article ›
October 22, 2021
Human Rights don’t stop at prison gates. It is time to end routine strip searching of people in prison!
Read post ›
Rebecca Johnston-Ryan, Service Director and Principal Lawyer, Night Service
March 27, 2024
Five minutes with FLS Night Service Director and Principal Lawyer, Rebecca Johnston-Ryan
Read post ›
View all news ›