Small-time criminals who have learnt their lesson deserve a clean slate and a spent conviction so they can become productive members of society, says a legal advocacy groups.
Liberty Victoria's Rights Advocacy Project (RAP) will release a report on Wednesday as part of Law Week appealing limits on criminal record checks for minor crimes.
Victoria is the only Australian jurisdiction without a legislated spent conviction scheme, despite repeated calls from advocacy groups.
A conviction is "spent" when it is removed from official records or prevented from disclosure after a period of time.
The RAP reports says the removal of less serious convictions from a record if a person does not re-offend and after a certain period of time, limits stigma and discrimination and encourages offenders to pursue a clean record.
"If you have committed a minor offence, repaid your debt to society and stayed out of trouble for a number of years you should be able to clear your slate and start anew," report lead author Paige Darby said.
Currently, Victoria Police decide what to disclose on a criminal record check under its information release policy.
Under the policy, if an adult is guilty of an offence within the past 10 years, all findings of guilt will be disclosed in a check.
But the policy goes beyond disclosing prior convictions, the report finds.
When a request is submitted for a criminal history check, Victoria Police will disclose all prior findings of guilt, including where a court has chosen not to record a conviction and sometimes even when the offence was committed as a juvenile.
"No convictions are ever permanently removed from a person's record," the report reads.
"The focus should be on assisting people from avoiding unnecessary stigma that inhibits them from contributing from society."
The report says some crimes, such as sex offences, should never be spent and the scheme would not apply to a working with children check.
It makes eight recommendations for reform, including waiting periods weighted by offence, a definition for 'minor conviction' and making it an offence to disclose a spent conviction without lawful authority.
In February this year, the Greens introduced a private member's bill into the Victorian Parliament to legislate a spent conviction scheme.