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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4272 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Telling victims ... they can not cope on their own without the help of professionals can become a self fulfilling prophecy ... This is perhaps the saddest aspect of victim support, the possibility that those who are genuinely trying to help victims may inadvertently end up by hurting them.

If this Assembly wishes to improve on the victims of crime scheme as it presently exists, then first and foremost we must treat victims with dignity and respect. A compulsory government service where each victim, if not an enemy, is a dubious dependant will alienate victims from the service and add to the damage already caused. The compulsion to access the proposed service is unwarranted and should be struck out.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (2.52 am): One of the philosophies behind the Government's approach is to create a disincentive for people to make claims which are basically geared around obtaining money and only for the purpose of obtaining money rather than for the purpose of obtaining redress and rehabilitation. Interestingly, in other States, particularly in Victoria, where the approach has been taken to require victims to obtain counselling and services before they have access to cash payments, the number of people who have chosen to go that path has dropped dramatically since the days when payments were accessible without that kind of recourse.

Does that mean that people are so badly traumatised by their experience that they cannot bear the shock of having to go and access a service like occupational therapy or counselling or some other kind of service? I think it much more likely that those who previously saw it as being relatively easy to access cash payments without much fuss, just by instructing their lawyers and basically waiting for the money to come through the mail in due course, would find that having to front up to services and get assistance for whatever permanent injury they had suffered was a step more than they wanted to take, and hence there would be a reduction in the number of claims.

I do not think it is a particularly onerous requirement for a person who claims to have been extremely seriously injured to seek some assistance for those extremely serious injuries. There is no requirement that the assistance be of a particular kind. They are not required to undertake, say, physiotherapy if that is not appropriate to their case. They are also not required to undertake any therapy or to access any services at all if they are physically incapable of benefiting from the scheme. A person, say, who as a result of a criminal act has broken their back clearly is not required to go and obtain counselling or therapy for the broken back, because no level of support or therapy is going to fix the broken back.

But it does seem to me reasonable to ask people who want money from the state to indicate some level of capacity to seek rehabilitation of their injuries, their harm, before they ask the community to fund the redress of that harm through a cash payment. Do not forget that the cash payment is designed to put the person back on their feet. If we can put them back on their feet through counselling and other services, through rehabilitation, why do we need to make a cash payment also? Those who oppose this

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