Repeal of Public Drunkenness Laws

Belinda Stevens speaks at Press Conference regarding Tanya Day

Preamble:

Victoria is one of only two states within Australia that has failed to repeal archaic public drunkenness laws.

The repeal of public drunkenness laws represented a key recommendation of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody undertaken by the Hawke Labor Government between 1987 and 1991[1].

With the practical operation of these laws being found by the Royal Commission to adversely and disproportionately target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and having directly led to deaths of numerous individuals in police custody.

The failure of successive Governments in Victoria and Queensland to repeal existing public drunkenness laws has inflicted significant and ongoing harm on already marginalised communities.

The urgency of repealing all existing legislation relating to public drunkenness was effectively highlighted by Victorian Deputy State Coroner, Caitlin English, following the death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day in 2017.

After being taken into police custody in Castlemaine, Miss Day was left inadequately supervised in a police cell and was found unconscious after suffering a significant head injury[2].

Miss Day died in hospital eleven days later.

The circumstances surrounding Tanya Day’s death immediately promoted the Deputy State Coroner to call for the abolition of all public drunkenness laws and underlines the necessity of this long overdue reform of Victoria’s penal code[3].

Platform:

LFDLR acknowledges that the failure to repeal public drunkenness laws has inflicted significant, unnecessary and sustained harm on marginalised communities across Victoria and Queensland.

LFDLR emphasises the necessity of immediately repealing all public drunkenness laws in Victoria and Queensland as recommended by 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Action:

LFDLR calls upon the Victorian Attorney-General, The Hon. Jill Hennessey MP, to immediately repeal Victoria’s existing public drunkenness laws as outlined within the Summary Offences Act 1966 and to encourage her Queensland counterpart, The Hon. Yvette D’Ath MP, to repeal similar legislation under her jurisdiction.


[1] https://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2019/4/14/-80-orgs-call-on-premier-andrews-to-repeal-public-drunkenness-offence

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-06/aboriginal-women-tanya-day-dies-after-injury-in-police-custody/10581650

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/dec/06/death-in-custody-prompts-push-to-change-victorias-public-drunkenness-laws

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