VLRC recommends a new scheme to support victims of crime

19 Sep 2018
A new scheme to provide financial and practical assistance to victims of crime should be set up and run from the office of the Victims of Crime Commissioner, the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) says. 
The new scheme should be separate from the court and tribunal system, and should not involve perpetrators of crime. The state-funded scheme would assist victims to recover after a criminal act by helping them to pay for medical expenses, counselling, housing, immediate needs and other things required for their safety and wellbeing. 
The Commission says that victims should be heard in a respectful forum and have their experiences properly acknowledged. The scheme should apply to anyone who has been a victim and suffered an injury as a result of a criminal act, including all sexual offences, some serious property offences and a range of family violence offences. 
The recommendations are contained in a major report by the VLRC tabled in the Victorian Parliament today, Review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996.
The Commission recommends that the current Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal should be abolished. The current levels of financial assistance should be increased, and the scheme should be funded by the state. 
Victims should also be entitled to receive a recognition statement which acknowledges the impact of the criminal act on behalf of the state.
The Commission says that the government should consider an automatic levy on all convicted offenders to help pay for the scheme, but does not say this should be introduced immediately.
The government has accepted all of the Commission's recommendations in principle.
Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission, the Hon. Philip Cummins AM, said: “The Commission recommends that the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 should be repealed and replaced with an Act that establishes a new scheme to better help victims recover from a criminal act. 
“Contemporary understanding of victims’ rights and needs has moved beyond the present Victorian system, and there is a need for a new scheme that is therapeutic, victim-centred and trauma-informed.
“Our recommendations would make it easier for victims to get the help they need more quickly, through a non-traumatic and straightforward process.”
For more information please contact: Nick Gadd, Communications Manager, Tel: 03 8608 7824 Mob: 0425 862 119.
Date published: 
19 Sep 2018

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