Poccum's Law - The Blueprint for Bail Law Reform

Veronica Marie Nelson was a strong Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman. Victoria’s unfair and discriminatory bail laws put Veronica in prison for minor shop-lifting related charges. Veronica passed away in that prison, alone and isolated from culture and support. Veronica’s loved ones have called for urgent changes to the Bail Laws and have asked that these reforms are referred to as Poccum’s Law.

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					Dear Hon Members,

I’m writing to ask you to do everything in your power to change Victoria's Bail Laws in line with Poccum's Law.

Veronica Marie Nelson (Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman) was imprisoned for minor shop-lifting charges. Veronica died in that prison, isolated from culture and support.

The existing Bail Laws are decimating families and communities and putting people's lives at risk. They have led to a soaring prison population, even though Victoria’s crime rates have flat-lined. There are now more women in prison for offences they have not been found guilty of, than those who have.

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that imprisonment must only be used as a last resort.

Thirty years later, the Coronial Inquest into Veronica’s passing labelled the bail laws a complete and unmitigated disaster. The Coroner found that the bail laws discriminate against Aboriginal people, are incompatible with Victoria’s Human Rights Charter, and should be changed urgently.

The Victorian Government has since committed to bail law reform. However, your government must implement wholesale reform of the bail system.

Reform to Victoria’s bail laws must:
1. Remove the presumption against bail; and

2. Grant access to bail unless the prosecution shows that there is a specific and immediate risk to the safety of another person; a serious risk of interfering with a witness; or a demonstrable risk that the person will flee the jurisdiction: and

3. Explicitly require that a person must not be remanded for an offence that is unlikely to result in a sentence of imprisonment; and

4. Remove all bail offences (committing an indictable offence while on bail, breaching bail conditions and failure to answer bail).

I therefore call on the Victorian Government to urgently adopt Poccum’s Law so that bail hearings are fair, remand is only used as a last resort, and what happened to Veronica never happens again. 

Please let me know what actions you will take to adopt Poccum's Law to reform Victoria's Bail Laws, thank you.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Your phone or email]

				
			

Names of intended recipients

Members Legislative Council (Upper House) MPs for Western Metropolitan Region:
Ingrid Stitt, Lizzie Blandthorn, Trung Lưu, Moira Deeming, David Ettershank

Members Legislative Assembly (Lower House):
Sarah Connolly – Laverton, Natalie Hutchins – Sydenham, Luba Grigorovitch – Kororoit, Melissa Horne – Williamstown ALP, Natalie Suleyman – St Albans, Katie Hall – Footscray

Email addresses of intended recipients

Ingrid.Stitt@parliament.vic.gov.au, lizzie.blandthorn@parliament.vic.gov.au, moira.deeming@vic.liberal.org.au, trung.luu@vic.liberal.org.au, david.ettershank@parliament.vic.gov.au, katie.hall@parliament.vic.gov.au, sarah.connolly@parliament.vic.gov.au, natalie.hutchins@parliament.vic.gov.au, luba.grigorovitch@parliament.vic.gov.au, melissa.horne@parliament.vic.gov.au, natalie.suleyman@parliament.vic.gov.au

Acknowledgement of Country

JAM! meets and works in ‘Mirring-gnay-bir-nong’ (Maribyrnong), which can translate as ‘I can hear a ringtail possum’, on the stolen lands of the Bunurong/Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri/Woiwurrung of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge, recognise and respect their Ancestors, Elders and families as the traditional owners of this land who have never ceded sovereignty.

Warning – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, please be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

Support – If you require support, please contact 13 9276 (YARN) or The Healing Foundation.

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