Push for Jus­tice seat

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

Af­ter a se­ries of un­pro­voked and vi­o­lent mur­ders rocked her town of Wan­garatta, Ta­nia Maxwell felt com­pelled to act.

Her quest to make a dif­fer­ence in her com­mu­nity started in March 2016, when she co­founded ‘Enough is Enough’, an anti-vi­o­lence cam­paign which pushes for tougher sen­tenc­ing for re­peat vi­o­lent sex­ual of­fend­ers, while also of­fer­ing sup­port to vic­tims of heinous crimes.

Now, al­most three years later, her jour­ney for jus­tice has led her onto the cam­paign trail.

Mrs Maxwell is stand­ing for a Vic­to­rian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil seat at next month’s state elec­tion for Der­ryn Hinch’s Jus­tice Party, as a can­di­date for north­ern Vic­to­ria.

Mr Hinch had been a long­time sup­porter of her work which led to him ask­ing Mrs Maxwell in Fe­bru­ary if she would like to of­fi­cially join his Jus­tice Party.

She has also been ac­tively in­volved with the Coali­tion’s Vic­tims of Crime Jus­tice Ref­er­ence Group.

Mrs Maxwell said her ex­pe­ri­ences had demon­strated there were sig­nif­i­cant fail­ings in the le­gal sys­tem, which had only spurred her to fight harder in the jus­tice space.

‘‘I would go and sit in a room with vic­tims of vi­o­lent crimes and lis­ten to their sto­ries and the one thing that was ev­i­dent was how much these crimes, par­tic­u­larly mur­ders, af­fect the vic­tim’s fam­i­lies, yet how much is pro­vided to the of­fender, while very lit­tle sup­port is pro­vided to the vic­tims,’’ she said.

‘‘Putting com­mu­nity safety first and mak­ing that the num­ber one pri­or­ity in all de­ci­sions in­volv­ing our jus­tice sys­tem is the Jus­tice Party’s big­gest fo­cus.’’

Last Tues­day, Mrs Maxwell vis­ited Yar­ra­wonga, then the fol­low­ing day spoke to lo­cal busi­ness own­ers in Co­bram, a cou­ple of which were re­cently bur­gled.

Af­ter speak­ing to peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to try and gain a sense of why crime was hap­pened in small towns like Co­bram, Mrs Maxwell be­lieved the is­sue of drugs is a preva­lent fac­tor, but un­der­stands it is not the only one.

‘‘Ev­ery town I have vis­ited re­cently has spo­ken of drug is­sues. I think it has be­come so wide­spread, which tells me that apart from early in­ter­ven­tion, we also need re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion spa­ces in small towns,’’ she said.

She also be­lieves a cul­ture of ac­cep­tance was fil­ter­ing through north­ern Vic­to­rian com­mu­ni­ties, which is a ma­jor worry.

‘‘What fright­ens me is peo­ple are start­ing to ex­pect these kind of in­ci­dents like break-ins as the norm,’’ Mrs Maxwell said.

‘‘How do we make change if peo­ple be­come ac­cept­ing of crime? Where is the up­roar to say this isn’t good enough?’’

She con­sid­ers it was essen­tial govern­ment moved away from deal­ing with crime at a cri­sis level, in­stead im­plor­ing lead­ers to delve into why crimes hap­pen in the first place.

‘‘It’s not al­ways drug re­lated, we need to dis­cover what is driv­ing these crimes. Is it bore­dom, is it fam­ily dy­nam­ics?,’’ Mrs Maxwell said.

‘‘We con­tinue to do the same thing but ex­pect a dif­fer­ent re­sult. It’s a repet­i­tive cy­cle that needs to be bro­ken,’’ she said.

Hav­ing stud­ied men­tal health and youth work, Mrs Maxwell said early early in­ter­ven­tion was key in pre­vent­ing crime from hap­pen­ing.

‘‘Hav­ing peo­ple in­car­cer­ated, we need to stop that. We need to be able to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing in the first place,’’ she said.

‘‘Ev­ery town has crime, but we need to fo­cus on the col­lec­tive im­pact of crime be­cause it has a domino ef­fect on peo­ple.

‘‘With these crimes that have hap­pened in this re­gion re­cently, you have to wonder what it is driv­ing those in­ci­dents.

‘‘And then the other end of that is if con­victed and found guilty, what do the mag­is­trates do — that’s an enor­mous fo­cus of the Hinch Jus­tice Party.’’

With the state elec­tion loom­ing, Mrs Maxwell was get­ting ex­cited, but knows there is much work to be done — by her party and oth­ers.

‘‘I’m look­ing for­ward to the elec­tion. But I truly be­lieve we need more po­lit­i­cal par­ties spe­cial­is­ing in par­tic­u­lar fields in Par­lia­ment if we want to move for­ward as a coun­try,’’ she said.

Elec­tion tilt: Ta­nia Maxwell is stand­ing for a Vic­to­rian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil seat, rep­re­sent­ing Der­ryn Hinch’s Jus­tice Party, as a can­di­date for north­ern Vic­to­ria. She was in Co­bram last Wed­nes­day speak­ing to peo­ple, in­clud­ing Orchid Cafe worker Al­li­son He­witt, about crime.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.