I did not get quite the warm welcome that my previous colleague got, but thank you anyway. Thank you, Ms Maxwell, for that contribution. I am very pleased to rise to speak on the Justice Legislation Amendment (Serious Offenders and Other Matters) Bill 2019. I want to begin my contribution by congratulating the minister and member for Niddrie, Ben Carroll, in the other place, who is the Minister for Crime Prevention, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice and Minister for Victim Support, for bringing this bill to the Parliament. And of course thanks to his hardworking staff and the department, who have a very, very difficult job. This is not a particularly easy area of public policy, and it is a very demanding area.
All of those people involved take up the challenges of their particular tasks with a sense of great responsibility and expectation, both politically and from the community, and they do their level best to provide the system that Victorians would expect and certainly the sort of system that is demanded by this place. My colleague Dr Kieu went through a number of aspects of the bill. I do not propose to go over all of that ground again, and I am conscious of the time. I understand that this bill will be going into the committee stage, so I will address just a few things. I did want to touch on a couple of things, particularly the investment that this government has made since it has been in office. We are committed to making sure that our prisons remain safe and secure, and we are taking a lot of action to break the cycle of reoffending to keep the community safe and to create jobs in the process. Before I continue I want to thank Ms Maxwell for her contribution.
I know that this area of public policy is something very near and dear to her politically. She and Mr Grimley both work tirelessly in this area of public policy, and it is important that this place puts on record its thanks for that work. We have all got particular interests in various bits of public policy, and yours in this area has certainly been very demonstrable since you have been here throughout 2019 following the election. In recognising the contributions of Ms Maxwell and Mr Grimley in this area, I want to acknowledge the work that has been done by this government and the budget investments that we make. You do not just throw dollars at a problem; we know that. You can throw dollars at any problem, but unless you support it with a proper policy framework, that money can be very, very quickly wasted. As I said at the beginning of my contribution, as the Andrews Labor government we are committed to making sure that our prisons remain safe and secure. Our budget investment supports that. This year’s budget, for example, includes $1.8 billion to meet the growing demand, including 1600 new beds and new prison infrastructure across the state.
This includes funding to expand the new Chisholm Road prison—I think Dr Kieu touched on this—by 548 beds. It will be the largest maximum security prison in the state. Our women’s prison system is also undergoing significant redevelopment, with $237 million for more than 100 new beds and upgraded infrastructure, again to keep staff and the community safe. As a spin-off, there is also the added outcome that these projects will create local jobs as well, with apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets et cetera working on that new Chisholm Road prison build and providing locals with those opportunities. While we build and expand the prisons that a growing Victoria needs—and we know that we do have population growth in this country—we know that we must be investing in programs that break the cycle of offending and keep people out of prisons in the first place. That is why we have provided $42.7 million for programs and services focused on keeping people out of the justice system, including women and Aboriginal people. We know as a Parliament that Aboriginal people across the board are overrepresented in our prison systems, much more than anyone would welcome. It is a significant ongoing challenge for the government, for the Parliament and for the community in general. We are particularly focused on that. Of the $42.7 million that I referred to, $20 million of that investment will be to reduce the incarceration of women, including programs targeted at women in prison with a mental illness, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment. But it also goes towards reducing incarceration rates of Aboriginal women, who, as I say, remain way overrepresented in our justice system.
I want to touch briefly on parole before I come very quickly to a couple of the amendments that have been circulated. Again, we have strengthened our parole system with the objective of keeping our community safe, and we continue to stay vigilant to make sure that the system works. We engaged High Court Justice Ian Callinan to carry out a review. That was in 2013. The Callinan review made 23 recommendations, all of which have been implemented. Our reforms to the parole system in Victoria mean that we now have the toughest parole system of anywhere in this country. The number of prisoners on parole in Victoria has halved, demonstratively evident of the work that we have been doing over the past five years. It does not stop there, but it is important that we are recognising the advances that we are making in this particular area of public policy. Parole is now granted for shorter periods in this state than was previously on offer and more parolees are actually successfully completing their parole, again going back to that objective of trying to minimise and change behaviours and habits that would see people reoffending. I refer to the Adult Parole Board of Victoria. Dr Kieu touched on this, and I think Mr O’Donohue also mentioned in his contribution that the opposition will be moving some amendments during the committee stage around this.
I just want to very quickly say that what we are proposing are some changes to the parole board. Under the current act the chairperson and the deputy chairperson must be judges or retired judges of the Supreme Court or County Court. This bill broadens that category of persons who can be appointed as chairperson and deputy chairperson of the adult parole board to include Australian lawyers with at least 10 years experience. Importantly for the house, senior lawyers with at least 10 years experience are actually qualified to be judges. Therefore they can provide the board with the necessary skills, experience and leadership to undertake the task. We think the coalition’s amendment would require a victim of crime to be a member of the parole board. In August 2018 there was a private members bill introduced in the Council. It would make a victim of crime or a representative of all victims of crime a required member of the board.
Parliament is yet to debate that bill, so this precipitates that debate. We believe that during consultation earlier this year with the parole board their advice was that mandatory membership requirements for victims of crime are not necessary because the views of victims are already considered in the parole process, including the consideration of submissions from victims to the victims register, and there are already members of the board who are victims of crime. Dr Kieu touched on the areas in relation to changes to the prisoner correspondence offence, and I understand that during the committee phase Ms Maxwell will in all probability pose a question to the minister about notifying victims regarding the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund. In the interests of time, I will wind up there. I am sure the minister will adequately respond to Ms Maxwell at that time. I commend the bill to the house. Motion agreed to. Read second time. Committed.