The Police Accountability Project, which is based at Inner Melbourne Community Legal Centre, is only taking on new clients referred to it by other lawyers and the most egregious cases, as it can no longer operate a phone intake line that had previously serviced as many as 400 people a year.
An open letter urging the state government to establish an independent police ombudsman was sent to the premier, Daniel Andrews, on Friday.
The current model of police oversight is under review, but the state government appears highly unlikely to announce significant reforms to the sector before November’s state election.
The letter said police should no longer investigate police and that the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (Ibac) should be stripped of its current police oversight role in favour of the ombudsman model.
Their letter said any oversight system must be truly independent, well-resourced, complainant-centred and culturally appropriate, fair, accountable and transparent, able to achieve timely and fair outcomes, and promote systemic change.
Kirsty Mac, a Melbourne woman whose own police complaint took five years to resolve, backed calls for a new approach.
“I’m lucky that I’m a middle-class white lady. I had all the resources at my disposal to continue on for five years. But most people don’t.”