Government institutions

Many government bodies and institutions deal with the law and law-related matters - here are some of the most significant.

Attorney-General of Victoria

The Attorney-General of Victoria is the state government minister responsible for the legal system in Victoria, including all the Victorian courts and tribunals. The person who holds the office of Attorney-General is an elected member of the Victorian Parliament.

The Attorney-General is responsible for advising the government on improving the legal system. This includes providing advice on general government policy relating to the law and the courts, as well as recommendations for law reform. This practical work is carried out by the Department of Justice and Community Safety, the department of the Victorian public service that provides advice and support to the Attorney-General.

Department of Justice and Community Safety

The Department of Justice and Community Safety is the coordinating agency for the state’s justice system, including police, criminal prosecutions, consumer protection, prisons and community corrections services, and emergency services. The department also deals with gaming and the provision of legal advice to the government.

The department is responsible for some dispute resolution services, such as those offered by Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of Public Prosecutions

The Director of Public Prosecutions has responsibility for prosecuting all indictable offences under Victorian law in the High Court, the Supreme Court of Victoria and the County Court of Victoria.

In 1983, Victoria became the first jurisdiction in Australia to establish an independent Director of Public Prosecutions. The Office of Public Prosecutions is an independent statutory authority responsible for preparing and presenting cases in court on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, briefing Crown Prosecutors, private barristers or its own Solicitor Advocates. It is involved in a range of matters including:

  • all murders
  • corruption cases involving police or lawyers
  • major sex offence cases
  • major drug and fraud cases
  • criminal appeals in the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

The Office of Public Prosecutions also supports a range of other statutory authorities and state government departments in the prosecution of serious offences.

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

The Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) is an independent service to prosecute alleged offences against Commonwealth law. The matters they prosecute are diverse and complex, including terrorism, serious drug offences, money laundering, human trafficking and slavery, people smuggling, child exploitation, cybercrime, revenue and benefits fraud, environmental crimes, corruption and failing to vote.

Victoria Police

The role of Victoria Police is to serve the Victorian community and uphold the law by:

  • preserving the peace
  • protecting life and property
  • preventing offences
  • detecting and apprehending offenders
  • helping those in need.

Victoria Police investigate traffic and criminal matters under state and Commonwealth legislation. In some circumstances Victoria Police may also appear in court to prosecute breaches of the law.

Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police enforces Commonwealth criminal law (criminal laws developed by the federal government) and protects Australia’s interests from crime in Australia and overseas. It works closely with Victoria Police and other state, national and international law-enforcement bodies. Matters investigated and prosecuted include terrorism, drug trafficking, people smuggling, high-tech crime involving information technology and communications, and money laundering.

Adult Parole Board

The Adult Parole Board is an independent body established under Victorian legislation. It makes decisions about whether to grant, deny or cancel a prisoner’s parole. When making parole decisions, the Board’s paramount consideration is always the safety and protection of the community.

The Board has no role in the sentencing process – only courts can impose a sentence and set a non-parole period. The Board decides if, when and under what conditions the prisoner is released on parole in accordance with the court’s sentence.

The Board includes full-time members, people with experience as judges or magistrates, and members of the community. Panels of the Board sit daily and can be convened outside business hours for urgent decisions. Panels normally comprise one from each group.

Prisoners categorised as Serious Violent Offenders or Sexual Offenders are considered by two divisions of the Board to provide a higher level of scrutiny before parole is granted.

Parole means prisoners have a supervised, supported and structured transition back into the community. Prisoners must apply if they wish to be considered for parole.

The Board receives comprehensive reports from Community Correctional Services (CCS) to inform its decisions. Registered victims can also write a submission to the Board which the members must take into account when they determine a prisoner’s parole.

Prisoners on parole must comply with conditions imposed by the Board. They are monitored and supervised in the community by parole officers from CCS. If a prisoner’s risk to the community escalates, the Board may cancel their parole and return them to prison.

Parole is the release of a prisoner under conditions at the end of their non-parole period in prison.

While on parole, the prisoner continues to serve their sentence in the community on conditions set by the Adult Parole Board.

Post Sentence Authority

The Post Sentence Authority is responsible for reviewing and monitoring offenders who are subject to Victoria’s post sentence scheme.

Under this scheme, some serious sexual and violent offenders must comply with ongoing supervision or detention orders after their sentence is complete.

Post sentence orders are made when courts decide that a serious offender poses an unacceptable risk to the community. The courts rely on expert evidence when making these decisions.

The Post Sentence Authority periodically reviews the progress of serious offenders and monitors risks of reoffending. The Authority can take action if an offender breaches the conditions of their order, or if the risk of reoffending escalates and the Authority becomes concerned about community safety.

The Authority can issue formal warnings or recommend that the Department of Justice and Community Safety prosecutes the offender. It also makes decisions about how an offender is managed in the community – such as imposing a tighter curfew or requiring them to wear an electronic monitoring device.

The Authority also plays a role in supporting the coordinated delivery of offender treatment and rehabilitation.

These functions support the protection of the community and help to ensure that serious offenders are receiving services that help manage their risks of reoffending.

Crime in Victoria

Most criminal law in Victoria is made by the Victorian parliament and enforced by state government departments, including Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions.

There are some crimes that the Victorian government does not deal with — these are crimes that affect the whole Australian nation in some way or crimes that have an international aspect. The federal government makes laws regarding these crimes, and they are enforced by the Australian Federal Police. Federal crimes include people smuggling, cybercrime and international drug trafficking.