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Spent Convictions (Part 8A Findings) Amendment Bill

5 March 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:45): I rise to speak in favour of the Spent Convictions (Part 8A Findings) Amendment Bill 2023. Currently, I understand people who are found not guilty by reason of mental incompetence are not able to access provisions to consider their conviction spent and therefore not disclosed on their criminal history checks. This creates an inequality for people in those circumstances. When someone is applying for a job, they are often asked for their criminal history.

The Greens believe it is important to reduce the stigma and inequality for people with intellectual disabilities. When people enter the criminal justice system it is important that we protect their human rights. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 7, speaks to this: 'All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.'

It is my understanding that there are no clear rules around what must be included in a criminal history check provided by the police; however, there are rules around what is excluded. This bill would ensure that people who have a finding of mental incompetence made in relation to them, or unfitness, would be able to have that excluded from their criminal history, which would be a very positive step forward in terms of ensuring that those people can be full and active members of our community.

People with different intellectual needs can already experience discrimination in many facets of their life. Anywhere we can reduce those layers of disadvantage, we should act. We need to remove barriers to meaningful employment and quality of life. In applying for jobs, it is ultimately unjust for people with a finding of mental incompetence to have it revealed when they are lodging an application. The Greens consider this bill to be a sensible measure that would reduce inequality and discrimination and we congratulate the government for acting on it.