Balancing community protection with minimum interference to mitigate risk

Dr David Curnow1, Michele Williams QC2

1Full Time Member, Post Sentence Authority, 2Michele Williams QC, Chair, Post Sentence Authority


The Victorian Post Sentence Scheme was established under the Serious Offenders Act 2018.   The legislation provides for enhanced protection of the community

by requiring offenders who have served custodial sentences for certain serious sex offences or certain serious violence offences and who present an unacceptable risk of harm to the community to be subject to ongoing detention or supervision.  The secondary purpose is to facilitate the treatment and rehabilitation of those offenders.  It is a civil scheme, not a criminal one and is focussed on community protection rather than punishment.  It was designed for the ‘critical few’, that is, those with the greatest likelihood of causing serious interpersonal harm.  The Authority must balance the “protection of the community” with the “minimum interference test” and ensure all decisions are compatible with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic).   The Authority has a critical role to review and monitor the progress of offenders under the Post Sentence Scheme.  It not only does this against order compliance, but it also does this in the context of their treatment plan.  This session will touch on what robust monitoring and review looks like.  The key information the Authority relies on to make informed decisions and look at the complexities of walking the “minimum interference” tight rope to ensure that a person is not left without hope.


Dr. David Curnow has been a forensic psychologist for over 20 years. He was appointed as a Full Time member of the Adult Parole Board of Victoria in 2014, re-appointed in 2019 and late in 2020 he was appointed to the Post Sentence Authority. Prior to this Dr Curnow held a variety of senior clinical leadership positions in the Victorian and South Australian correctional systems. In private practice Dr Curnow has provided psychological treatment to a broad range of clients and groups, in addition to providing reports to courts on criminal, civil, and family law matters. He has held a variety of positions on regional, state and national executives of the Australian Psychological Society. In 2011 Dr Curnow received his PhD after studying the psychology of white collar offending by interviewing a range of offenders. He has provided consultancy services to clients of McGrathNicol and has presented at numerous Fraud Week presentations. Dr Curnow currently sits on the Standards Australia committee reviewing the Fraud and Corruption Control standards (AS-8001) which has just been released. His first book is being due for release by Palgrave McMillan later this year and is titled: The Psychology of Embezzlement. The art of intervention and control.

Michele Williams QC has over 30 years’ experience as a criminal barrister, where she prosecuted some of the most serious sexual and violent offenders including numerous high-profile murder trials. She was appointed a Crown Prosecutor in 2002 and appointed Queens Counsel in 2005. In 2006, Michele was appointed a Senior Crown Prosecutor and in that same year appointed the first Head of the Specialist Sex Offences Unit at the Office of Public Prosecutions. She lead changes to the prosecution of sex offences, and cultural changes which led to victims being more informed throughout the criminal justice system. In 2007, Michele was appointed as the first Chair of the Therapeutic Treatment Board, which is responsible for providing advice on whether children who exhibit sexual abusive behaviours should receive therapeutic treatment. Michele has played an active role in mentoring junior barristers and teaching through the Victorian Bar Readers’ Course. She was appointed to the Post Sentence Authority as Deputy Chair in 2018 and then Chair in 2019.

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