Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flags justice system reform after coroner’s findings into Veronica Nelson’s death

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flags justice system reform after coroner’s findings into Veronica Nelson’s death

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged changes to the state’s justice system following Veronica Nelson’s death in a Melbourne jail, saying the tragedy will “drive reform”.

Veronica Nelson’s family has given permission for the use of her name and image.

Mr Andrews made the comments a day after a coroner found the death of the 37-year-old Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman in custody was preventable and described her treatment in prison as “cruel and destructive” described. for urgent reform of the state’s bail laws.

Coroner Simon McGregor made 39 recommendations based on an inquest into Veronica’s death, but slammed tougher bail laws introduced in 2018 that he said have a “discriminatory impact” on First Nations people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Mr Andrews described Veronica’s death as a “terrible tragedy”.

“Her experience and the terrible way she was let down and failed will drive reform and change, there must be no doubt,” he said.

“We will soon have more to say about those reforms and it will not only involve bail, and a better recognition in our bail laws of the clear difference between violent offending and non-violent offending, but it will also involve other matters that will far beyond the law.

“They go after issues of prisoner welfare and make sure that vulnerable Victorians – whether it’s because they’re First Nations Victorians, or for many other reasons – get the support and care they’re entitled to as a basic human right.”

The Premier said it was “pleasant to see” that a bipartisan approach could be taken to bring about legal reforms, following public comments from the opposition.

“With goodwill and a partnership across parliament, I think we can take this terrible tragedy, and while we can’t change it, we can learn from it and honor Veronica Nelson’s memory by making sure that this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen again. not happen again,” he said.

Opposition calls for urgent action

Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto described the coroner’s findings as “horrendous reading”.

“Just one long catastrophic litany of failures, from the laws themselves to not heeding the calls for help that Veronica made in her last days and her last hours,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

Mr Pesutto called for an urgent response to the coroner’s recommendations, but warned against an “extended period of review”.

“If I were Premier today, I would already be [in] meeting with key stakeholders in the justice system to say there are things we can do immediately,” he said.

He said the opposition was open to possible repeal of changes to bail laws made in 2018.

“The whole idea was to get some of the [bail] laws around violent offences,” said Mr Pesutto.

“In no universe is what Veronica did anything remotely like the kind of things the laws changed in 2018 were intended to address.”

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