Victims of crime have been left outraged after it was revealed convicted criminals spent lockdown knitting scarves and making dog toys as part of their community service.
Those impacted by crimes say it is an insult and fear lenient sentences are on the rise.
Noel McNamara was dealt a life sentence 29 years ago when his daughter Tracey was murdered.
After his daughter’s killer was released after serving 10 years, Mr McNamara was shocked to learn criminals sentenced to community corrections orders spent the COVID lockdown doing arts and crafts instead.
“I think it’s disgusting. It’s outrageous, it’s an insult to all the victims suffering from these people – what they’ve done,” Mr McNamara told 9News.
Between March and December last year, traditional tasks like rubbish collection, cleaning footpaths and building community gardens were replaced with activities including quilting, knitting scarves, braiding dog leads, assembling planter boxes, sewing bags and sorting donations for op-shops. All items were donated to charities, animal shelters and aged care facilities.
Of the 700,000 community work hours ordered for last financial year, only 65 per cent were completed.
Now there are concerns lenient sentences will become more common as judges grapple with the massive court backlog sparked by the pandemic.
“I’d like to see them all reform but I know that’s never going to happen,” Mr McNamara said.