CHANGES in sentencing and parole will be in the spotlight at the Talking Justice forum.
The event is designed to start conversations about the role of justice in a free society and will be at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre in View Street on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Talking Justice has been organised by the Bendigo based Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and will feature an impressive line-up of speakers including Father Frank Brennan, Raimond Gaita, Anne Manne, Graham Atkinson, Kate Auty, Arie Freiberg, Simon Breheny, Debbie Kilroy and Nicholas Cowdery QC.
Topics covered will include asylum seeker policy, gender equity, native title, freedom of speech, criminal justice and sentencing policy, environmental sustainability and compensation, and justice and morality.
Professor Arie Freiberg is chair of the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council and is looking forward to speaking at the event.
"I'll be arguing that we've seen some fairly major changes in our prison population over the last three years or so which have been politically driven," he said.
"This is reflective of changes that are also occurring in other jurisdictions in Australia that again are primarily driven by politics rather than increasing crime rates or changing demographics.
"We've seen an increasing number of conservative governments elected - these are sprouting policies that I think are too expensive, unnecessary and ineffective.
"Making the argument of 'we make no apology' ignores the history of penal reform elsewhere, discounts the criminological evidence ... Given that people are probably more concerned about transport, infrastructure, health and education, law and order probably does not really figure as highly as many politicians think."
The event has attracted funding from the Victoria Law Foundation and a range of local businesses and agencies including Arnold Dallas and McPherson Solicitors, La Trobe University, Stuthridge Legal, Strategem Community Foundation, The Good Loaf, Bress and Apple Annie’s.
For more information or tickets to the Talking Justice seminars visit www.eventbrite.com.au/e/talking-justice-tickets-10716805253