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Notifications to the Victorian Aboriginal Legal service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in custody

Amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 concerning notification to VALS of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons in custody came into operation on 1 January 2024

Published:
Monday 1 January 2024 at 4:30 am

The Justice Legislation Amendment Act 2023 No. 26 (Vic) amended the Crimes Act 1958 in relation to the notification of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service as follows.

  • The definition of 'Aboriginal person' has been removed from s 464 and the words “and Torres Strait Islander” has been added to all references to 'Aboriginal person'. 
  • The police must ask a person whether they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander as soon as practicable after they are brought into custody, and before questioning (Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)(opens in a new window) s 464AAB).
  • If a person who has been taken into custody states that they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, then that statement is sufficient to trigger a requirement that the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service(opens in a new window) (VALS) be notified within an hour or as soon as is practicable. 
  • Notification of VALS is mandatory in all circumstances where a person has self-identified as an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander, regardless of the opinion of the police.
  • Further, if a person is taken into custody and the police know or are of the opinion the person is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, then VALS must be notified. Again, that notification must take place within an hour or as soon as is practicable (Crimes Act 1958 s 464FA).
  • The police must notify VALS regardless of whether the accused person has requested or authorised it (Crimes Act 1958 s 464FA(1)(b)(i) and (ii)). The police must also inform the person in custody of that notification.

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