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Until 1987 and the appointment of a Minister responsible for Corrections, responsibility for the administration of the Victorian prison system and adult correctional services had been exercised by the Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District (VRG 7) 1836-1839, Superintendent, Port Phillip District (VRG 11) 1839-1851, Colonial Secretary (VRG 16) 1851-1855, Chief Secretary (VRG 26) 1855-1970, Minister for Social Welfare 1970-1979 and Minister for Community Welfare Services (VRG 60) 1979-1985 and the Attorney General (VRG 19) 1985-1987.
In 1987 the Minister responsible for Corrections assumed responsibility for the Office of Corrections (VA 1063) which had been established under the provisions of the Community Welfare Services (Director General of Corrections) Act 1983 (No.9966). The Office of Corrections is responsible for the administration of the prison system and for the provision of adult correctional services which encompass custodial services and facilities and a range of non-custodial services including attendance centre orders, probation orders and community service orders together with post-custodial, pre-release and parole programmes. The Office also provides pre-trial and pre-sentence advice to courts. Administration of the parole programme is undertaken in conjunction with the Adult Parole Board.
The Minister is also responsible for the Victorian Prison Industries Commission which was established in 1984 to co-ordinate the management of all prison industries and farms. The Commission is responsible for making prison industries and farms profitable, for providing prisoners with work skills in conditions which are as close as possible to those applying in similar industries outside, and for the administration of an industry incentive payments scheme for prisoners.
The following Acts are administered by the Minister responsible for Corrections:
Corrections Act 1986
Penalties and Sentences Act 1985
Crimes (Amendment) Act 1986 - Part 3
Prisoners (interstate Transfer) Act 1983 - Except for Part VI (A-G)
Parole Orders (Transfer) Act 1983
Victorian Prison Industries Commission Act 1983
Mental Health Act 1986 - Part 3, Division 3 and Part 4, Division 4
Intellectually Disabled Persons' Services Act 1986 - Part 4, Division 4 and Part 5, Division 2
Corrections (Remission) Act 1988
Brief History of the Administration of Prisons
Administration prior to 1871
The establishment and regulation of gaols was originally governed by the provisions of two New South Wales Acts, the first being An Act ... for establishing Houses of Correction 1828. This Act was largely repealed in 1840 by An Act for the regulation of Gaols 4 Vic., No.29. This Act conferred upon the Sheriff of New South Wales the control of all prisoners in the gaols and provided for the appointment of a Deputy Sheriff for the Port Phillip District. The law in Victoria was subsequently codified in 1853 by An Act to make provision for the better control and disposal of Offenders 16 Vic., No.32. Under the provisions of this Act the Lieutenant Governor could by proclamation establish public gaols, prisons, houses of correction, penal establishments and prison hulks which were to be maintained at public expense. Section V of the Act provided that these institutions were "to be under the charge, care and direction of the Sheriff of the Colony of Victoria and such other officer as the Lieutenant Governor shall appoint".
Under the provisions of the Statute of Gaols 1864 (No.219) sections 3 to 7 the Governor in Council could establish penal establishments, being places "at which male offenders under any sentence of detention with hard labour on public works shall be detained", gaols, which were also to be houses of correction and prisons for debtors, and prison hulks. All gaols and hulks were to be under "the charge, care and direction of the Sheriff of Victoria (or if within a circuit district, of the sheriff of such circuit district) or such other officer as the Governor in Council might appoint".
In 1871, following a Royal Commission on Penal and Prison Discipline (see Papers Presented to Parliament, Session 1871, Volume 3) the Statute of Gaols 1864 was amended and the Inspector of Penal Establishments became responsible for the supervision of all prisons - see the Statute of Gaols Amendment Act 1871 (No.397).
Prior to the legislative change in 1871, responsibility for the administration of prisons appears to have been divided between the Attorney General (VRG 19) and the Chief Secretary (VRG 26). The Civil Establishment lists and Appropriation Acts show the sheriffs as being responsible to the Attorney General, while the officers and staff of the gaols and penal establishments, including those appointed by the Sheriff, were located in the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). Until 1871, there were separate departments for Gaols and Penal Establishments including the prison hulks, but subsequently there was a single Penal and Gaols Branch (VA 1464) which included the staff of all penal establishments and gaols.
The 1864 Act had also provided for the establishment of police lockups under the direction of the Chief Commissioner of Police (VA 724). Some of these were subsequently proclaimed police gaols and used for the detention of prisoners awaiting trial or transfer and those sentenced to less than 31 days.
Institutions for Juvenile Offenders and Neglected Children 1864-1989
Prior to 1864 children under the age of nineteen convicted of crime could be dealt with under the Criminal Law (Infants) Act 13 Vic., No.21 (1849) and assigned by the court to persons willing to undertake their "maintenance and education". In 1857 a Select Committee of Inquiry upon Penal Discipline (see Papers Presented to Parliament, 1856-57, volume 3) was very critical of the confinement of destitute orphans and young offenders in the colony's gaols and recommended that separate institutions be established. By 1863, it appears that many children in care were being housed by the Immigrants Aid Society.
In 1864, under the provisions of the Neglected and Criminal Children's Act (No.216), industrial schools for neglected children and reformatory schools for juvenile offenders were established and in 1866 George W. Duncan was appointed as the Inspector of Industrial Schools (a post which seems to have comprehended responsibility for reformatory schools also). By 1876 this office which was located in the Chief Secretary's Department was known as the Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools (VA 1466).
In 1887, following the proclamation of the Neglected Children's Act (No.941) and the Juvenile Offenders Act (No.951), responsibility for neglected children was assumed by the Department for Neglected Children which in 1924 became the Children's Welfare Department (VA 1467) and a Department for Reformatory Schools (VA 2963) assumed responsibility for convicted juveniles. Although responsibility was statutorily separated, it is evident that both departments continued to be administered jointly within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). In 1954 under the provisions of the Children's Welfare Act 1954 (No.5817) responsibility for juvenile offenders was officially transferred to the Children's Welfare Department.
In 1961, under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1960 (No.6651) responsibility for juvenile offenders was assumed by the Social Welfare Branch (VA 2784) until 1971 when responsibility was transferred to the newly established Social Welfare Department (VA 946) under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089).
In 1979, following the establishment of the Department of Community Welfare Services (VA 613) under the provisions of the Community Welfare Services Act 1978 (No.9248), there was a major re-organisation of the provision of community welfare services. In particular there was a clear separation of the administration of adult and juvenile correctional services which had also been evident in the Social Welfare Department. From 1979 there was a further shift in administrative perspective and juvenile correctional services became far more closely linked to the provision of family and child welfare services.
When in 1983, the Office of Corrections (VA 1063) assumed responsibility for the administration of the prison system and adult correctional services, responsibility for juvenile correctional services and institutions remained with the Department of Community Welfare Services (VA 613). In 1985 responsibility was transferred to the newly established Department of Community Services (also known as Community Services Victoria) (VA 2633).
Establishment of the Penal and Gaols Branch 1871
The Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department (VA 1464) was administered by the Inspector General of Penal Establishments, known as the Director of Penal Services from 1956.
The Penal and Gaols Branch was responsible for the administration and management of Victorian gaols and penal establishments which had originally been defined in the Statute of Gaols 1864 as being places for the detention of male offenders under any sentence of hard labour on public works. Gaols were originally used for the detention of prisoners not sentenced to hard labour, but prisoners not contributing to their own maintenance could be required to work. In addition to criminal offenders, gaols also held debtors, lunatics and the old and the destitute who had been convicted of vagrancy.
In time the distinction between the two classes of institution became less clear; offenders sentenced to hard labour were held in gaols; a women's division was established at Pentridge (VA 863); separate institutions were established for the psychiatrically ill, neglected children, and juvenile offenders and particular gaols tended to hold a high proportion of old and infirm poor who had been imprisoned for having no visible means of support.
From 1908, the Branch was also responsible for reformatory prisons and a system of probation established under the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentences Act 1907 (No.2106). Administration of this Act was undertaken in conjunction with the Indeterminate Sentences Board from 1908 to 1957. Under this scheme, offenders who had been convicted on indictment, could be given an indeterminate reformatory sentence either as an alternative to a fixed term or on expiration of such a term and prisoners were detained at the Governor's pleasure until they had demonstrated that they were eligible for release on probation.
In 1915, under the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentences Act (No.2758) the Board was given the power to grant temporary release to prisoners to test their reform. This temporary release was known as parole and was usually granted for six months. If the prisoner met the requirements of parole, a recommendation for release on probation was made and the period of probation was usually two years.
Reformatory prisons and the Indeterminate Sentences Board were abolished in 1957 under the provisions of the Penal Reform Act 1956 (No.5961) and, in conjunction with the Parole Board, the Penal and Gaols Branch became responsible for the administration of the parole system established by the Act.
Establishment of the Social Welfare Branch 1960
In 1960 under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act (No.6651) the Social Welfare Branch (VA 2784) was established within the Chief Secretary's Department. The Branch assumed responsibility for functions previously administered by the Penal and Gaols Branch and the Children's Welfare Department (VA 1467).
A Prisons Division was established within the Social Welfare Branch. Under section 16 of the Act, the Division was responsible for the control and supervision of all persons imprisoned or detained in any gaol and for assisting in the rehabilitation into the community of all persons released or discharged from any gaol. The Prisons Division was administered by a Director of Prisons accountable to the Director General of Social Welfare.
Responsibility for functions relating to probation and parole was assumed by the Probation and Parole Division of the Social Welfare Branch and was administered in liaison with the Adult and Youth Parole Boards, Children's Court probation services having been transferred from the Attorney General (VRG 19) in 1960.
Establishment of the Social Welfare Department 1971
In 1970 a Minister for Social Welfare (VRG 60) was appointed and under the provisions of the Social Welfare Act 1970 (No.8089) which came into operation on 5 January 1971, the Social Welfare Branch was reconstituted as the Social Welfare Department (VA 946).
The Prisons Division was retained and in addition to the functions specified by the Social Welfare Act 1960 (No.6651) the Division became responsible for the provision of welfare services to prisoners and their families and for assisting and promoting co-operation between organisations and Government departments concerned with the welfare and after care of prisoners. From 1976 this Division was also responsible for the administration of attendance centres which were a non-custodial alternative to imprisonment.
Establishment of the Department of Community Welfare Services in 1979
In 1979 a Minister for Community Welfare Services was appointed and under the provisions of the Community Welfare Services Act 1978 (No.9248) the Department of Community Welfare Services was established. Within this Department, the Correctional Services Division was responsible for the administration of the prison system and for the development of alternatives to institutional care. The major responsibilities of the Division were the control and supervision of persons detained in prison; the administration of attendance centres; the provision of court advisory services including pre-trial and pre-sentence reports; the provision of welfare and rehabilitation services to prisoners and their families and the provision of support services such as education, prison industries and counselling.
The provision of these services led to the development of two distinct programs:
Correctional (or custodial) Services being the administration of the prison system, such as had been undertaken by the former Prisons Division and
Community Based Corrections being the administration of alternatives to prison detention such as attendance centres and community service orders.
The latter programme also encompassed correctional services provided by the Regional Services Division of the Department including probation, parole and community service orders.
Establishment of the Office of Corrections
In 1983 following a major review of Victoria's prison system undertaken by an American consultant J.D. Henderson and Commander P.H. Bennett of the Victoria Police who concluded that the prison system was long overdue for redevelopment, the Office of Corrections (VA 1063) was established by an Order in Council gazetted on 17 August 1983.
Under the provisions of the Community Welfare Services (Director General of Corrections) Act 1983 (No.9966) the Office of Corrections was administratively separated from the Department of Community Welfare Services and the Director General exercises the powers of a Chief Administrator.
To meet its responsibilities, the Office of Corrections was structured into four divisions. These were:
The Prisons Division
This Division is responsible for the management of Victoria's prisons, prisoner classification and delivery of prison programs including prisoner support services. Responsibility for all prison manufacturing and farming industries is vested in the Victorian Prison Industries Commission which was established in 1984. The Prisons Division essentially continued the work of the previous Correctional Services Division, although responsibility for the state's attendance centres was transferred to the new Community Based Corrections Division.
The Community Based Corrections Division
This Division is responsible for the operation of all non-custodial programs, that is, the administration of all punishments which do not involve prison detention (e.g. probation, attendance centres and community service orders) and the rehabilitation of persons released from prison detention through parole or pre-release orders. The work of this division is largely carried out in Attendance/Correction Centres scattered throughout the State which also serve as the agency's regional offices. The administration of parole and pre-release programs is undertaken in close co-operation with the Adult Parole Board which operates as an independent agency.
The remaining two Divisions supported the work of these Divisions. The Strategic Services Division consisted of specialist units responsible for planning and review, building development, information systems, policy and program development, research, legislative development and public relations. The Management Services Division provides the agency with the necessary administrative, training, financial, management and other support services. The Strategic Services Division was incorporated into this Division during 1986.
In 1985 responsibility for this agency was transferred to the Attorney-General's portfolio (VRG 19) and since 1987 has been the responsibility of the Minister responsible for Corrections (VRG 93).
For further information about the administration of individual institutions see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres.
Legislation governing the administration of the Victorian prison system and correctional services includes:
1853 An Act to make provision for the better controul and disposal of Offenders 16 Vic., No.32
1854 An Act to Amend an Act entitled An Act to make provision for the better control and disposal of offenders 17 Vic., No.26
1864 Statute of Gaols No.219
1864 Neglected and Criminal Children's Act (No.216)
1871 The Statute of Gaols Amendment Act 1871 (No.397)
1872 The Statute of Gaols further Amendment Act 1872 (No.431)
1873 The Statute of Gaols further Amendment Act 1873 (No.463)
1887 The Gaols Act 1887 (No.921)
Neglected Children's Act (No.941)
Juvenile Offenders Act (No.951)
1888 The Gaols Act 1888 (No.976)
1890 Gaols Act (No.1096)
1907 Indeterminate Sentences Act (No.2106)
1915 Gaols Act (No.2659)
Indeterminate Sentences Act 1915 (No.2758)
1928 Gaols Act (No.3690)
1956 Penal Reform Act (No.5691)
1958 Gaols Act (No.6259)
1960 Social Welfare Act (No.6651)
1970 Social Welfare Act (No.8089)
1978 Community Welfare Services Act (No.9248)
1983 Community Welfare Services (Director General of Corrections) Act (No.9966)
Victorian Prison Industries Commission Act (No.9944)
1985 Penalties and Sentences Act (No.10260)
1986 Corrections Act (No.117/1986)
See also the Crimes Acts.
Location of Records
The Public Record Office has substantial holdings of prison records and some records relating to the central administration of prisons and correctional services. For records of the central administration see List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.4.7 (Correctional Services), 3.4.8 (Adult Parole Board) and 3.5.6 (Youth Parole Board) and see also 3.16.5 (Chief Secretary's Office). For records of individual institutions see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and section 13.0.0 of the List of Holdings.
Minister responsible for Corrections 1987-ct.