Page 203 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 February 2016

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Thursday, 11 February 2016

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Bill 2016

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Capital Metro, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Bill 2016. The government recognises that crime can take an enormous physical, financial and emotional toll on victims. The purpose of this bill is to introduce a new victims of crime financial assistance scheme to provide more equitable access to a wider range of victims of crime. The new scheme is an important reform which greatly improves the support we as a community provide to victims of crime.

The current victims of crime financial assistance scheme has been the subject of criticism and concern since its inception for providing assistance to only a limited range of victims and for providing inequitable access to special assistance payments. The structure of the current court-based scheme has also been criticised, including by the Ombudsman, for being difficult to navigate and failing to meet the needs of victims in a timely way.

The bill addresses these concerns. The new scheme resolves them by providing more equitable support to a larger number of victims of crime and creating an administratively based scheme, with applications assessed by government officials rather than being submitted to a court. I would like to outline some of the main elements of the new administrative structure of the scheme.

Firstly, the new scheme will be administered by the Victims of Crime Commissioner. As head of Victim Support ACT, the commissioner is supported by professional case managers from a range of disciplines, including social workers and counsellors. Giving the commissioner responsibility for administering the scheme will better meet the needs of victims of crime. It recognises the multiple impacts of crime, streamlining the availability of support from other areas of Victim Support ACT, and reducing the administrative burdens and hurdles faced by victims of crime.

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