Sentencing Guidance Reference

On 24 November 2015, the Council received a request from the Attorney-General, the Hon Martin Pakula MP, to provide him with advice on sentencing guidance in Victoria.

The terms of reference are as follows.

Terms of Reference

The Court of Appeal found in DPP v Walters [2015] VSCA 303 that the baseline sentencing provisions in the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) were ‘incapable of being given any practical operation’.

In comparable jurisdictions, legislation providing sentencing guidance has withstood court challenge. In New South Wales, for example, legislation providing for standard non-parole periods has operated for some time.

The Council is asked to advise the Attorney-General on the most effective legislative mechanism to provide sentencing guidance to the courts in a way that:

  • promotes consistency of approach in sentencing offenders; and
  • promotes public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The Council may have regard to mechanisms in existence in other comparable jurisdictions and other sentencing advisory regimes the Council considers appropriate to examine.

In its report and recommendations, the Council should advise the Attorney-General on the following:

  • the type of sentencing guidance that should feature in a new sentencing scheme;
  • which offences should be subject to such a scheme; and
  • the levels at which sentencing guidance should be set for such offences.

The Sentencing Advisory Council was asked to report back to the Attorney-General by no later than 15 April 2016. The Council provided its advice to the Attorney-General on that date.


In June 2016, the Council released Sentencing Guidance in Victoria: Report, containing its advice to the Attorney-General.

Consultation Paper

The Council prepared Sentencing Guidance Reference: Consultation Paper to provide information on different sentencing guidance models as well as questions on whether, and how, such models could be applied to sentencing in Victoria.