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Another bill to put victims of crime first

Hon Simon Power
Minister of Justice

13 October 2011

Another bill to put victims of crime first

A bill that re-directs to victims of crime all compensation paid to prisoners was introduced to Parliament today by Justice Minister Simon Power.

The Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims (Redirecting Prisoner Compensation) Amendment Bill provides that any compensation awarded to a prisoner and not paid to the direct victims must be used to fund general services for victims of crime.

The Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005 already restricts the circumstances in which courts can award compensation to prisoners for breaches of their human rights. If compensation is awarded, victims of the prisoner can seek redress for the harm they have suffered. The amendment bill makes that regime permanent. Victims will still be able to access the simplified claims process.

The bill further provides that from 1 July next year any money remaining after the victims’ claims are addressed be re-directed into the Victims Services Crown Bank Account – the same account into which money generated by the $50 Offender Levy goes.

The levy is used to fund 13 services and entitlements for victims of crime.

“The re-directed money will help the Government provide even more services for victims in future years,” Mr Power said.

Existing victims’ services and entitlements include:

• Support for families of homicide victims, such as assistance from the Homicide Support Service (providing practical and emotional support throughout the criminal justice process), daily court attendance grants, and funeral cost assistance.
• Support for families of victims killed as a result of a criminal act (eg dangerous driving causing death), such as a discretionary grants, and trauma counselling.
• Support for victims of sexual violence, such as one-off discretionary grants, and assistance by the Sexual Violence Court Support Service (which gives access to a trained and experienced victim adviser during the criminal court process).
• Support for victims of serious crime, such as assistance with court and parole hearing-related expenses.

A copy of the bill can be viewed here.


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