Following significant machinery of government changes after the election of the first Kennett Government in October 1992, the Department of Justice was established. Under Administrative Arrangements Order No.114, the Department assumed responsibility for all functions of the Attorney-General's Department (VA 2825), the Office of the Victorian Government Solicitor (VA 667), the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity (VA 1830), the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421), the Office of Corrections (VA 1063), the previous Ministry of Consumer Affairs (VA 1026) (renamed Office of Fair Trading) except Trade and Measurement Branch and Shop Trading and Liquor Licensing Commission (VA 2869), the Women's Policy Coordination Unit and Office of the Solicitor-General from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039), and the State Trust Corporation of Victoria.
Department of Justice
The Department of Justice was one of thirteen departments established by the Government of Victorian in October 1992. At that time the Secretary of the Department of Justice was responsible to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrections, and the Attorney-General, Minister for Fair Trading and Minister for Women's Affairs.
The Department of Justice brought together all Government activities concerned with the reform, administration and enforcement of the law in Victoria, including all police and prosecution functions, administration of the Court system, provision of the prison system, administration of various tribunals established to protect citizens' rights, provision of emergency services, drafting of legislation, and provision of legal advice to Government.
The justice portfolio's principal functional areas included:
- Victoria Police, responsible for the preservation of peace, the protection of life and property, and the prevention and detection of crime;
- Fire and Emergency Services, responsible for the prevention and suppression of fires in metropolitan and country areas, and for providing services and training for natural disaster, emergency rescue, and civil defence activities;
- Correctional Services, responsible for operating the adult corrections system;
- the Police and Emergency Services Directorate, responsible for the co-ordination of policies and programs to maintain law and order and prevent and minimise the effects of fire and other emergencies;
- Courts and Tribunal Services, responsible for the administration of the court system (comprising Supreme, County, Magistrates', Coroner's and Children's Courts) and tribunals including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal;
- Information Registries, comprising the Land Titles Office and the Registry for Births, Deaths and Marriages, responsible for providing registration and information services regarding land dealings and ownership and births, deaths and marriages in Victoria;
- Legislation Advice and Policy, responsible for the provision of advice on law reform, legislative program and associated legal policy;
- the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, responsible for drafting of legislation;
- the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office, responsible for provision of legal advice to the Government and its agencies;
- the Fair Trading and Business Affairs Division (Fair Trading Victoria from 2002), responsible for maintaining an effective framework for Fair Trading in Victoria and for providing an effective business licensing and registration function; and
- the Corporate Resources Division, providing management and administrative support to the Department.
Office of Women's Affairs
As a function of government, women's affairs evolved within the Premier's portfolio out of the promotion of equal opportunity under the Equal Opportunity Act 1977.
Until 1992 the Co-ordinator of Women's Affairs within the Department of the Premier (VA 2717) and its successor the Women's Policy Co-ordination Unit in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039) was responsible for:
- provision of policy advice to the Premier on issues affecting the status of women,
- monitoring and reviewing policies and programs which impact on women,
- co-ordinating and monitoring the activities of agencies with the view to improve the status of women,
- assisting agencies to enhance service delivery to women,
- co-ordinating Victoria's responses to committees and inter-national agencies on women's issues,
- representation of Victoria on Commonwealth-State committees,
- the annual Women's Budget report,
- the register of women interested in appointment to government boards and committee; and
- liaison with non-government organisations providing services to women.
As part of machinery of government changes introduced in October 1992 the Women's Policy Co-ordination Unit was transferred to the Department of Justice and these functions became the responsibility of the Office of Women's Affairs.
Following the election of the new Labor government in September 1999, in January 2000 the Office of Women's Affairs was moved to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039) and renamed the Office of Women's Policy (OWP) to reflect its whole-of-government policy approach. In December 2002 the OWP transferred to the newly created Department of Victorian Communities (VA 4562).
Community Council Against Violence
The Community Council Against Violence was established in 1989 to provide advice to Government about violence in the community. The Council was reconstituted and relaunched by the Attorney-General in 1993 with agreement from Cabinet. At this time the Council included three task forces: the Victims' Task Force, the Violence Against Women Task Force and the Community Safety Task Force.
From 1989 to 1991 the Council was the responsibility of the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (VA 421). As part of machinery of government changes announced in January 1991 responsibility transferred to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039) until 1992 when the Department of Justice assumed responsibility.
Under Administrative Arrangements Order No.182 dated 5 December 2002 (Victorian Government Gazette No. S 231, 5 December 2002) the Department of Justice took over responsibility of the portfolios of gaming and racing, which were subsequently administered by the Office of Gaming and Racing and the Office of Gambling Regulation.
On 1 January 2015, the Department of Justice was renamed Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR) (VA 5038) by Order of the Governor-in-Council under section 10 of the Public Administration Act 2004 (Victorian Government Gazette, S 432, Thursday 4 December). The name change was part of machinery-of-government changes made by the newly elected Labor Government under the leadership of Premier the Hon Daniel Andrews MP.