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Crime and Punishment: Perspectives on Community Safety


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Society must ensure our community’s safety – but in the process, we inevitably walk a tightrope to avoid infringing on civil liberties. What can we do to better prevent crime from occurring in the first place? When people are accused of crimes, how can we ensure they are tried fairly and treated justly? And to what extent, if at all, should judges use discretion when they impose sentences?

In this topical event, we’ll examine the social utility of our prison system, whether prisoners have any hope of rehabilitation, and whether parole should be harder for prisoners to obtain. If not paroled, how will prisoners be supported and supervised when they ultimately re-enter the community?

Jane Dixon QC, president of Liberty Victoria, discusses these challenges with a panel of legal experts. The Hon. Robert Clark MP, attorney general of Victoria, has been a strong proponent of sentencing and parole reform. He is joined by the Hon. Justice John Coldrey, current chair of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and adjunct professor Peter Norden AO, a former chaplain at Pentridge prison and founder of the Brosnan Centre.

Together they will outline their views on how best to ensure community safety, whether the criminal justice system is working, and what prospect offenders have for genuine rehabilitation.


John Coldrey

John Coldrey QC is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He is currently chairman of the council of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. John Coldrey was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1966 and spent 18 years as a defence barrister, including defending Aboriginal accused in t... Read more

Jane Dixon

Jane Dixon QC is the President of Liberty Victoria, one of Australia’s leading civil liberties organisations. Jane has practiced at the Victorian Bar for over 20 years. Her main fields of endeavour have been criminal and common law trials and appeals, coronial inquiries, environmental matters and ... Read more

Robert Clark

Robert Clark is the member for Box Hill and is also the attorney-general, Minister for Finance and Minister for Industrial Relations in the Victorian government. Clark was first elected to Parliament in 1988, and has been member for Box Hill since 1992. From 1992 to 1999, he served as parliamentary ... Read more

Peter Norden

Peter Norden is an adjunct professor at RMIT, and former Catholic chaplain at Pentridge. In 2009, Peter left the priesthood and the church. After decades of service, he no longer identified with the institutional Catholic Church. He was a vocal critic of the prison system and a strong advocate for ... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.