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Burdekin Crime Prevention Forum; September 2012 Responding to the needs of victims of violent crime Victim Assist Queensland.

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Presentation on theme: "Burdekin Crime Prevention Forum; September 2012 Responding to the needs of victims of violent crime Victim Assist Queensland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Burdekin Crime Prevention Forum; September 2012 Responding to the needs of victims of violent crime Victim Assist Queensland

2 Outcomes from this Presentation Victim Assist’s role in the safety and recovery of victims of crime Identifying potentially eligible victims of crime, and how they are referred to Victim Assist Fundamental Principles of Justice afforded to victims of crime in Queensland Offender accountability

3 Victim Assist Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General scheme for victims of violent crime. Began on 1 December Replaced criminal injury compensation COVA Provides financial assistance and access to support services to help victims of violent crime to recover. Key changes: increased victim categories, increased accessibility for victims, increased coordination of sector; offender debt recovery

4 Financial Assistance scheme Recovery for victims of crime

5 Definition of victim Victims of Crime Assistance Act (2009) s5 Meaning of Victim (1) A victim is a person who has suffered harm— (a) because a crime is committed against the person; or (b) because the person is a family member or dependant of a person who has died or suffered harm because a crime is committed against that person; or (c) as a direct result of intervening to help a person who has died or suffered harm because a crime is committed against that person. (2) A person who commits a crime against a person as mentioned in subsection (1)(a) is not a victim of the crime under subsection (1)(b) or (c).

6 Victim Categories Primary victim: a person who dies or is injured as a direct result of the act of violence Related victim: is a person who is a close family member (with genuine relationship), or a dependant, of a primary victim who has died as a direct result of the act Witness-secondary: is a person who is injured as a direct result of witnessing the act Parent-secondary: is a person who— (a) is a parent of a child who is injured as a direct result of the act being committed against the child; and (b) is injured as a direct result of becoming aware of the act.

7 Defining an Act of Violence ‘A crime or series of related crimes, whether committed by one or more persons, that has occurred in Queensland and directly resulted in the death or injury to one or more persons’ Acts of violence include: 1.Murder, attempted murder, manslaughter 2.Assault 3.GBH 4.Sexual offences 5.Robbery with violence to the person 6.Dangerous driving causing death or GBH 7.Kidnapping/stalking/deprivation of liberty

8 Applications to date From 1 December 2009 to 30 June 2012: Increase from 2010/11 Assault % Homicide* % Sexual Offences % Domestic Violence % Other % Robbery % Stalking/Threats % Burglary % Grand Total % * This is a count of all related victim applications not the number of murders in QLD

9 Reporting the act of violence For most victims this will be: -a report made to the police -a Medical Certificate completed by their doctor (or dentist) (Special primary victims may not need to meet this reporting requirement) Victims of acts of violence that occurred after 1 December 2009, can claim for financial assistance where it can be established that an act of violence and an injury (physical or psychological) has occurred.

10 Range of assistance –Reasonable counselling, medical, dental, incidental travel (to medical appointments) and report expenses –Loss of earnings up to $20,000 –Expenses for loss of or damage to clothing –Special assistance (recognition payment by state to primary victims) –Distress assistance (for related victims only) –Interim assistance for emergency upfront costs up to $6,000 –Funeral assistance where primary victim has died up to $6,000 –Up to $500 legal fees to help with application. –If exceptional circumstances exist for the victim, other expenses incurred by the victim to significantly help the victim recover….. For example, forensic cleaning

11 Snapshot of North Queensland (1 Dec 2009 – Aug 2012)

12 Referring to Victim Assist Qld Queensland Police 39% Office of DPP 16% Word of mouth 11% SupportLink 10% Non-government Org’s 10% Advertising 2% Evidence to support timely referrals, the sooner the referral the greater the opportunity for recovery and procedural justice Victims of crime can be referred to VAQ at any point in the process

13 Fundamental Principles of Justice Responsibilities of prescribed officers

14 FPJ are based on United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power There are nine Principles detailed in VOCCA: 1.Fair and dignified treatment 2.Privacy of Victim 3.Information about services 4.Information about investigation of the offence 5.Information about prosecution of the offender 6.Victim to be advised on their role as witness 7.Victim impact statements 8.Information about convicted offender Covers all government employees including QPS officers Working closely with police to inform officers of their obligations

15 If a prescribed officer (a government employee) acts in an manner that is inconsistent with the FPJ the victim has the right to complain. Complaints to date have primarily identified QPS and ODPP as the agencies and tend to relate to lack of information. Complaints referred to agency for resolution Most complaints resolved to complainant’s satisfaction Victim Assist has a central contact for complaints Complaints process

16 Victim Impact Statements A victims’ voice in sentencing

17 s9(2)(c)(i) PSA & s150(1)(h) of YJA: the sentencing court must have regard to the harm done to, or impact of the offence on the victim s15 of VOCAA: a victim has the right to give the prosecutor details of the harm caused for the purpose of informing the sentencing court This may be provided in the form of a victim impact statement Discretion rests with Prosecutor regarding what details if any are appropriate to provide to the court Victim Impact Statements

18 Provides victims perhaps their only voice within the system Leads to stronger sense of procedural justice, and less likely to result in complaints Helps inform sentencing court about the impact upon the victim VAQ: Guide to making a Victim Impact Statement About to commence NGO training for VIS’ Encouraging victim participation

19 Offender Debt Recovery The process of recovering funds

20 Under the new Act, the government has started to recover debts to the State from offenders. Only cases where the offender has been convicted of the offence in court and criminal injury compensation or financial assistance has been paid to a victim/s. Recovery can go back to convictions that occurred years ago and also applies to convicted young offenders. Separate phone line: Offender debt recovery (ODR)

21 Contact details: Victims LinkUp e: w: Babette Doherty e: Dee Laird e:


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