The Serious Offenders Act 2018 (Vic) (“SO Act”)provides a post sentence scheme for the preventative supervision or continued detention of serious sex offenders and serious violent offenders who continue to pose an unacceptable risk of harm to the community at the end of their custodial sentence.
Supervision orders allow for the continued supervision of serious sex offenders and serious violent offenders who have served a custodial sentence.
In Victoria – for certain serious offences and for those who continue to pose an unacceptable risk to the community – supervision orders are made by the County Court or the Supreme Court upon application by the DJCS Secretary.
Offenders on supervision orders are supervised by Corrections Victoria (www.corrections.vic.gov.au). The PSA is responsible for monitoring offenders and ensuring they comply with the conditions of their supervision orders.
Supervision orders are different to parole (see “Parole”). A person on parole is considered to be still serving their prison sentence, even though they are living in the community. After the person on parole serves their prison sentence, they are no longer supervised by the APB.
A supervision order can be made for up to 15 years and can be renewed for further 15-year periods. A supervision order must be reviewed at least every three years by a court.
Every supervision order has rules (i.e. conditions) attached that the offender must follow. The court sets these conditions to reduce the risk of the offender reoffending and to consider the concerns of the people affected by the offender’s crimes. These conditions can direct where an offender lives, who they can contact, and what activities they can participate in. The conditions may require the offender to participate in a treatment program, undergo drug or alcohol testing, and be subject to electronic monitoring. Failure to comply with a supervision order condition is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
If a serious sex offender or serious violent offender is considered to be an unacceptable risk to the community after they have completed their prison sentence – and this risk cannot be managed with a supervision order – a detention order can be imposed to keep them detained in custody.
Detention orders can be made for up to three years, can be renewed for further three-year periods, and must be reviewed by the Supreme Court annually.
Only the Supreme Court can make detention orders. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)has the power to apply to the Supreme Court to make a detention order. The DJCS Secretary can recommend the DPP apply for a detention order.
The Post Sentence Authority (PSA) is an independent statutory body that was established in February 2018 by the Serious Offenders Act 2018 (Vic). The specific functions of the PSA are set out in section 291.
The PSA oversees Victoria’s post sentence scheme, which is responsible for the ongoing detention and supervision of serious sex offenders and serious violent offenders who are placed under supervision orders or detention orders by the courts. The post sentence scheme monitors the offenders’ compliance with the conditions of their orders and monitors the ongoing risk of reoffending.
When making decisions, the PSA must balance the community’s protection with the offender’s rights. The PSA must comply with its obligations under the Charter (see “Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities”).
For more information about the PSA, see www.postsentenceauthority.vic.gov.au.