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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 15 November 2007) . . Page.. 3418 ..

This bill reflects the government’s ongoing commitment to improve services for victims of crime in our community. The bill assists in fulfilling this commitment by introducing a scheme that makes a certain section of the community—those who break the law—liable to make a contribution in providing better services to victims of crime in the ACT. The scheme was part of the government’s 2007-08 budget announcements.

The bill will amend the Victims of Crime Act 1994 to introduce a $10 levy on all offences in which a court imposes a fine. This levy will be administered by the courts. Funding for victims’ services will also be boosted by the introduction of a $10 infringement penalty payment to all traffic infringement notices. The Road Traffic Authority in the Department of Territory and Municipal Services will administer the scheme. Neither amount will apply to parking offences.

The revenue from these new measures will be used specifically to fund enhanced services for victims of crime—for example, through the expansion of free counselling services already available to victims, through providing a better coordinated service to victims advising about criminal justice processes, and through appropriate referrals to provide practical and speedy assistance to victims. The revenue will be managed by the Victims of Crime Coordinator as part of her overall responsibility to enhance the response of the criminal justice system to victims of crime in the ACT.

Similar schemes whereby law-breakers are liable to contribute to victims’ recovery have been implemented in several Australian jurisdictions and overseas. While the models may vary, the common objective of these schemes is that the offenders should be made responsible for the harm, or the potential harm, caused to victims. Nonetheless, if offenders have difficulty in paying the amounts, there are mechanisms in place to alleviate these hardship circumstances.

Unlike schemes in other Australian jurisdictions, young people aged between 12 and 17 are not liable to pay the levy under this ACT model. The levy will apply in the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court, but it will not apply in the Children’s Court.

The ACT model has been developed to suit local conditions. For the ACT, a single flat rate is considered the most effective cost option for a small jurisdiction like ourselves. Some of the other jurisdictions have a graduated scheme, which sees a different levy amount applied for different offences. The additional administrative work that would be required to introduce a graduated scheme in the ACT would far exceed any substantial funding that would be derived from adopting such a model. A flat $10 levy is also considered an affordable amount, comparable to the cost of a meal out, a takeaway meal, or indeed going to the movies.

It is this government’s high priority to enhance the services provided to victims of crime. It is this government’s policy not to target the community at large, but to specifically target those who break the law. It is this section of the community that should be contributing to victims’ services in order to assist in their recovery. The government wants to make it easier for victims of crime to access services, information and support. This funding boost is another positive step taken by this government to improve services to victims of crime.

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