Indigenous Award 2018

Australian Communities Foundation and Woor-Dungin for the Criminal Record Discrimination Project (CRDP)

Woor-Dungin was founded by five Aboriginal women and one non-Aboriginal woman in 2006. Its purpose is to increase resources, build strong partnerships and share knowledge to fulfil the purpose of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, as well being a living model for successful partnerships among Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and philanthropic and pro bono partners.

The difficulty Aboriginal people face in accessing employment experience and in obtaining employment is a key issue raised by all of Woor-Dungin’s partner organisations. This is exacerbated by the fact that Aboriginal people have a much higher rate of convictions and incarceration than non-Aboriginal people, and that Victoria is the only state that does not have spent conviction legislation to allow for the removal of irrelevant criminal records.

When the Law Institute of Victoria made the case for  a spent convictions scheme in Victoria, initial funding from The Myer Foundation allowed Woor-Dungin to set up the CRDP to advocate for legislative reform from an Aboriginal perspective. The CRDP is an Aboriginal-led collaboration of numerous community and legal organisations, driven by an Advisory Committee with over 50 members. The Criminal Record Discrimination Project (CRDP) seeks to achieve the following reforms: 

  1. the introduction of a legislated spent convictions scheme in Victoria, and
  2. an amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) to prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record. 

Australian Communities Foundation (ACF) enables Australians to give to their communities by providing an accessible philanthropic platform and expert advice.

The strong relationship between ACF and Woor-Dungin led to funding from two sub-funds, which enabled preparation of case studies documenting how discrimination on the basis of a criminal record affects Aboriginal people. This work also revealed that members of the Stolen Generation, and others taken into state care as children, had a ‘conviction’ for being in need of care and protection recorded against their names after they were removed from their family. The work of the CRDP has led to a formal apology in Parliament to individuals affected by these convictions, their public records updated, and a commitment to change the law if necessary to ensure the ongoing protection of children taken into state care.

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