Published: 27 October 2021

Legislative Council, Tuesday 26 October, 2021


With regard to the enactment of the legislation relating to the expungement of historic criminal records for homosexuality and for cross-dressing in 2017, I understand there have not been any successful expungement applications as noted in the independent statutory two-year review of the legislation with a report released last year. To address deficiencies in the legislation and to boost applications, the review put forward 13 recommendations. The Government has not provided an official response to the review. My question to the Government through the Attorney-General,

(1) Which recommendations will or have been accepted?

(2) Will the Government implement measures to promote and support the lodgement of applications?

(3) Will the Government provide a full response to the review in Parliament; and

(4) If so, when is it expected?


Thank you, Mr President, I have quite a lengthy response to that with one more question to come. With your guidance, Mr President, perhaps the member for Murchison will allow me to table this to get it finished. Are you happy to do that?

I seek leave to table the answer and have it incorporated into Hansard.

Leave granted.

Incorporated answer below:

The Department of Justice is currently assessing and developing advice on the review’s 13 recommendations for consideration of the Government, which includes consideration of potential legislative and procedural amendments to the application process. Accordingly, while the formal Government response to the review cannot be provided at this time, a preliminary overview of matters under consideration has been prepared, as follows.

In principle, the Government supports the proposed measures to support applicants to make use of the scheme. While some recommendations are straightforward, others have some considerable complexities that are taking time to work through.

The review proposed legislative changes in recommendations 1, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 11. Some of these are accommodated for in practice, such as continuing protection of confidentiality and further assistance to applicants, while others represent significant policy or administrative changes (such as records management), which require further consideration and are being worked through as to their feasibility.

In relation to recommendations 2, 3 and 4, regarding the provision of information on the scheme:

• necessary information is already available, but discussions will occur with Service Tasmania as to how to make this more available;
• in relation to support services information, the Expungement of Historical Offences (EHOS) website is a central source of information on the application process and includes contact information for the Department where queries arise. The website also includes information on free support services that are available to anyone involved in the process. As an electronic resource, the website can be easily maintained and updated as required;
• to clarify, an applicant is not required to provide every last detail requested on the application. The questions and answers page on the EHOS website under the question ‘How do I apply?’ already provides information, however the following wording is suggested to be added to the form to provide further guidance.
• The information we collect will help us locate the official records. We understand that these matters took place a long time ago and that you may not remember a lot of detail. Please complete the application form as best you can;
• it is important to note that not all information is necessary for the application process to progress. However, identity documents are mandatory for submitting an application, which reflects the nature of the information being accessed, collected and potentially disclosed in the expungement process.
In relation to Recommendation 6, to provide applicants with an appropriate feedback mechanism to identify any system issues or obtain support, this is supported in principle going forward.

In relation to recommendation 8, as to the disposal of records, the appropriate response to the important balance of document disposal and accountable record keeping is being considered.

In relation to recommendation 12, the Government acknowledges the need for consultation with LGBTIQ+ community representatives in relation to any appropriate promotional activity of the scheme. Work will continue to be undertaken, including the development of a communications plan, as appropriate.

Recommendation 13 relating to ex gratia payments suggests a significant departure from all other Australian jurisdictional schemes for expungement of historical offences. That is, none appear to provide for compensation. It is acknowledged that there are a range of views which is why this issue is continuing to be explored in the Tasmanian context, to see what the appropriate response or options is for local circumstances.

The Government has committed to providing a formal response to the review once the Department of Justice has completed its consideration and provided advice on the recommendations.

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