Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (15:01:53) — I, too, would like to rise briefly to speak about Ms Springle’s motion, which almost feels like it had been taken over by the government. It is exciting news on this wonderful ‘yes’ day. It might look like I am even supporting the Tigers today, which would be a rather remarkable day as I am a Swans supporter through and through.However, today does seem like it is a very good day for this Parliament and for me to speak briefly on this motion.
It is always amazing what you learn when you are a member of this house. I had no concept of this system. I had no concept that children were being charged because they were neglected and abused. I did not realise that that had occurred in our state. I was pleased to learn more about this issue. I was pleased that that did stop in 1989, but I understand that so many people would obviously have been harmed and hurt by such a procedure. I quite often feel that in so much of what we do in juvenile justice we are punishing the victims. We know that if someone has had neglect and abuse in their early lives there is a greater chance that they will enter our juvenile justice system and that if they experience further neglect and abuse they will follow through to the adult justice system.
That is also the case for someone with a conviction. Having a conviction for being a victim really is just so sad. I am very pleased to hear the government announce today that legislative change is afoot and that we will see some changes. May I also add — and it is nice that Ms Pennicuik is here — that of course we have been pushing for spent convictions. In the 1980s a whole bunch of jurisdictions introduced spent convictions. That would be those radical states like Queensland and Western Australia, and also the Northern Territory. A lot of that, while not recognising the harm that has been done by this, would have spent the convictions of those people so that those convictions would not still be standing on the books. I appreciate that the police are very sensitive to this and do not exclude this information from all criminal history reports. However, I would encourage the government to also move towards spent convictions. The rest of the country has. Victoria is an island on this still. I would like to note Melbourne also is an island in its support for same-sex marriage, but that is off the subject here.
It really seems to me that the Labor government could have done this in the 1980s — even in the 1990s. I did speak to the former Attorney-General Rob Hulls about why this did not happen when every other state was doing it, and he really did not know. It seemed that there were other priorities. I would think that spent convictions should be a priority, because as we have seen from this motion and as we have seen from Ms Springle’s contribution and Ms Crozier’s contribution, having these types of offences or having any type of offence when you are young just follows you through, and having a conviction really sets the bar just that bit higher for you — in this case as a result of being neglected or abused but in other cases through youthful exuberance. I am not trying to marry those two issues together; they are very different. However, spent convictions give us the opportunity to think about this.
When the minister was talking about tangible changes and saying that motions like this must be met with tangible changes, I was very pleased to see that her amendments seemed to signpost some tangible changes. I am not quite sure what they are, but she signposted them, and I think that is wonderful. I would also suggest that spent convictions should be part of those tangible changes that recognise that we did so many things wrong in the past. The fact that we still have people who received a criminal conviction when they were a baby or a toddler is unacceptable.
I was very proud to be part of that joint house sitting last year when we recognised the work of Mr Newton-Brown and we recognised the campaigning of my friend Noel Tovey in recognising similar injustices. But these injustices, because they affected children, I think are even more startling and more poignant, and it is more important that we address them.
I am happy to support this motion. I am very pleased to hear the government is acting on this, and I think this is one of those great things about this Parliament. Really this was an issue I did not know about until Ms Springle put this motion onto the notice paper, and I think this instigated some work and some forward thinking from the government, so I am pleased to support the motion.