About Us

Establishment and Functions

The Sentencing Advisory Council is an independent statutory body established under amendments to the Sentencing Act 1991.

In 2000, the Victorian Government requested a review of aspects of Victoria’s sentencing laws. This was in response to concerns that the sentencing process was in need of reform.

The review was undertaken by Professor Arie Freiberg. His report, Pathways to Justice, recommended a number of improvements to the sentencing system, including the establishment of a Sentencing Advisory Council.

The review found general support for the creation of an organisation that would:

  • conduct research on sentencing policy
  • collect and analyse statistical data
  • provide current sentencing information to the government, judiciary, and the public
  • provide feedback on the effectiveness of sanctions imposed on offenders.

The Victorian Government accepted the need for properly informed public opinion to be incorporated into the sentencing process and the recommendation for a Sentencing Advisory Council to be created. The Council was subsequently established in 2004.

The Council is not the first of its kind. Other similar organisations have been established in England, Scotland, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

Functions of the Council

The Council's mission is to bridge the gap between the community, the courts and government by informing, educating, and advising on sentencing issues.

Section 108C of the Sentencing Act 1991 provides that the functions of the Council are to:

  • provide statistical information on sentencing, including information on current sentencing practices to members of the judiciary and other interested persons
  • conduct research and disseminate information to members of the judiciary and other interested persons on sentencing matters
  • gauge public opinion on sentencing
  • consult on sentencing matters with government departments and other interested persons and bodies as well as the general public
  • advise the Attorney-General on sentencing issues
  • provide the Court of Appeal with the Council's written views on the giving, or review, of a guideline judgment.

In addition to establishing the Council, the government also amended the Sentencing Act 1991 to allow the Court of Appeal to deliver guideline judgments.

The Council is an advisory body rather than a review body. The Council cannot review sentencing outcomes in individual cases. This is the role of the appellate courts on application from either the defendant or the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Council Directors

Sentencing Advisory Council Directors come from a broad spectrum of professional and community backgrounds and represent a range of perspectives. Under section 108F of the Sentencing Act 1991, between eleven and fourteen Council members must be appointed under eight profile areas.

Headshot of Arie Freiberg AMEmeritus Professor Arie Freiberg AM (Chair)

Profile - Senior member of an academic institution
Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg is an authority on sentencing issues and the criminal justice system, having undertaken extensive research on sentencing theory, policy and practice. He was Dean of Law at Monash University from 2004 to 2012 and has served as a consultant to the federal, Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian governments on sentencing matters, as well as to the Australian Law Reform Commission and the South African Law Reform Commission. Professor Freiberg was appointed as Chair of the Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council in 2013.

 

Headshot of Lisa WardLisa Ward (Deputy-Chair)

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
Lisa Ward has extensive experience in a range of human services, including juvenile justice, child protection and adult corrections. For the last decade, she has operated a human services consulting business, providing research, program evaluation and policy review services to government and community organisations.

 

Headshot of Carmel ArthurCarmel Arthur

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
Carmel Arthur has great personal insight into, and a unique comprehension of, the operation of the criminal justice system. She is not only a victim of crime but has also worked with many victims of crime. She advocates better treatment of victims and their families through the criminal justice process and is particularly conscious of the need to keep the community engaged and informed about the justice system. Carmel is a founding member of the Sentencing Advisory Council and a long-term community member of the Adult Parole Board. She has vast experience in the criminal justice system, particularly with courts, Corrections and Victoria Police.

 

Hugh De KretserHugh de Kretser

Profile - Community issues affecting courts
Hugh de Kretser is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. He has extensive legal practice and policy experience in the criminal justice system, working on both offender and victim issues. He previously worked for six years as the Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres and was a commissioner on the Victorian Law Reform Commission from 2008 to 2012.

 

Headshot of Fiona DowsleyFiona Dowsley

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
Fiona Dowsley has over a decade of experience in building the evidence base in crime and justice to support improved research and decision-making. She spent two years as Director of the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics at the Australian Bureau of Statistics and has collaborated in the international sphere, such as with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Task Force, to develop an international classification of crime. In January 2014, she was appointed as the founding Chief Statistician of the Crime Statistics Agency in Victoria.

 

Headshot of Helen FatourosHelen Fatouros

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
Helen Fatouros has worked within the criminal justice system for over 18 years as a lawyer and leader within prosecutions and the legal assistance sector. Her previous roles include Executive Director Criminal Law Services at Victoria Legal Aid, Legal Prosecution Specialist and Directorate Manager Specialist Sex Offences at the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions. In 2012, Helen led the Sexual Offences Interactive Legal Education Program, earning her the Law Institute of Victoria’s 2013 President’s Award for Government Lawyer of the Year. Helen is also a current Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

 

Headshot of David GraceDavid Grace QC

Profile - Highly experienced defence lawyer
David Grace has nearly 40 years' experience as a legal practitioner, having appeared in numerous court jurisdictions in a number of leading sentencing cases. He regularly appears in the High Court and the Court of Appeal and is a former Chair of the Criminal Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria.

 

John GriffinJohn Griffin PSM

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
John Griffin has over 40 years’ experience in the operation of criminal justice systems, including senior executive roles in both the Victorian correctional system and the Victorian court system. He is currently a member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

 

Headshot of Sherril HandleySherril Handley

Profile - Member of the police force of the rank of senior sergeant or below who is actively engaged in criminal law enforcement duties
Senior Sergeant Sherril Handley joined Victoria Police in 2003 and worked in various operational policing roles prior to joining the Prosecutions Division where she currently manages the Prosecutor Training Course. She has represented Victoria Police interstate and overseas in relation to family violence reforms and has received several internal commendations.

 

Headshot of Brendan KissaneBrendan Kissane QC

Profile - Highly experienced prosecution lawyer
Brendan Kissane QC was appointed Chief Crown Prosecutor in March 2018.  He has been a barrister for over 30 years, commencing his career in law as a solicitor with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.  He has been a Senior Crown Prosecutor since 2015, and was previously a Crown Prosecutor for eight years. He was the first Crown Prosecutor assigned to Geelong, where he oversaw the operations of the local Office of Public Prosecutions from 2009 to 2011.

 

Headshot of Susanna QuinnSusanna Quinn

Profile - Person who is involved in the management of a victim of crime support group or advocacy group and who is a victim of crime or a representative of victims of crime
Susanna Quinn commenced employment at the Office of Public Prosecutions (Victim and Witness Assistance Service) as a social work practitioner in 2009.  She has been manager of the service since late 2017.  Susanna has over 20 years’ experience in social work practice. She has worked in the areas of homelessness, family violence, child protection, juvenile justice, and youth and family counselling, as well as in the acute hospital setting at the Alfred Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Susanna is also currently a serving member of the Victims of Crime Consultative Committee. 

 

Headshot of Council Director Meena SinghMeena Singh

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
Meena is a Yorta Yorta woman also of Indian descent, born and raised on Wurundjeri country and currently living on Boonwurrong country. A qualified lawyer, Meena has practiced with both Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, where she has also held senior management roles including Associate Director, Aboriginal Services (Victoria Legal Aid) and Director, Legal Practice and Acting CEO (Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service). As a consultant, Meena has collaborated with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, not-for-profit organisations, government and private enterprise to deliver professional development training and organisational development strategies. Meena has commenced her PhD at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, focusing on how lived experience becomes knowledge for working with women of colour as clients in the area of family abuse and violence.

 

Headshot of Wendy SteedhamWendy Steendam

Profile - Operation of the criminal justice system
In November 2018 Wendy Steendam was appointed as Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations, with portfolio responsibility for Counter Terrorism Command, Crime Command, Road Policing Command, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, Forensic Services Department and Legal Services Department. Wendy Steendam is a highly respected police leader with over 34 years’ experience.  She has performed significant senior executive roles across Victoria Police and was appointed Deputy Commissioner in August 2015, she was also Executive Sponsor for the 2015 Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

Council Secretariat

The Council is supported by a secretariat that undertakes the Council's daily work, including research, statistical analysis, community engagement, community education and administrative support.

Current Staff

Cynthia Marwood (Chief Executive Officer)
Zsombor Bathy (Senior Data Analyst)
Dennis Byles (Manager, Statistical Analysis)
Anna Chalton (Legal Policy Officer)
Chris Gill (Senior Education and Engagement Officer)
Dakota Groepes (Administrative Assistant)
Catherine Jeffreys (Senior Publications and Website Officer)
Anusha Kenny (Manager, Legal Policy and Community Engagement)
Sarah Lappin (Operations Manager)
Paul McGorrery (Senior Legal Policy Officer)
Hoa Nguyen (Data Analyst)
Octavian Simu (Research Assistant)
Felicity Stewart (Principal Legal Policy Officer)