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‘Victim-centred’ justice not happening at the Parole Board

‘Victim-centred’ justice not happening at the Parole Board

Kim Workman, spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment, told the Law and Order Select Committee, that victims should have more involvement with the Parole Board rather than less. He was making a submission on the Parole Amendment Bill, which seeks to have Parole Board hearings every two years, rather than annually.

“There is a lot of loose talk about ‘victim-centred justice’ in our society. If there is a genuine interest in pursuing that goal, then we need to establish why 86% of victims choose not to engage with the parole process, and what could be done to make an encounter with the Parole Board a more positive experience and part of the victim’s healing journey.”

”At present, victims register their interest in Parole Board hearings in about 14% of all Parole Board cases. About half of those make written submissions to the Parole Board, and half again turn up at the Parole Board hearing to make an oral submission. In other words of the 5000 Parole Board hearings held every year, about 160 make oral submissions –3% of all Parole Board hearings.”

“The department claims that the two yearly hearings would benefit victims who would not have to appear on an annual basis. Although there is no requirement to attend Parole Board hearings, we know that some victims of serious crime who choose to attend, find the experience traumatic. What we need is research which would tell us how to make the experience less traumatic and more empowering, and encourage more victims to register and get involved in the Parole Board process. They may require more information about the functions of the Parole Board, they may need more tangible support before, during and after the Parole Board hearing, or the Parole Board may need to consider moving away from its rather formal approach, to a more inclusive and informal style of operation.”

Ends

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