Page 205 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 February 2016

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Practically, this means that someone who is assaulted and requires urgent dental treatment but cannot afford to pay for it could apply for an immediate need payment. The commissioner will be able to pay the dentist directly, allowing the person to have the treatment they need when they need it, without having to find the money to pay providers up-front and seek reimbursement. Paying providers directly also enhances the scheme’s accountability.

The commissioner will also be able to pay to have home security installed for a victim of domestic violence who has been threatened with further harm by the perpetrator. The bill requires the commissioner to give priority to applications for immediate need payments. Simplified application processes will also apply to immediate need payments to ensure those payments are made as quickly as possible and when a victim needs it most.

The second type of payment available under the new scheme is an economic loss payment. These payments will be available to cover a wide range of expenses incurred by a victim of crime as a result of the offence. These payments include medical and dental expenses, expenses for counselling and other psychological support, justice related expenses and the loss of actual earnings incurred as a result of the crime.

For example, a person who requires surgery as a result of an attack will be able to apply for an economic loss payment to cover medical expenses. A person who was sexually assaulted and needs a significant amount of psychological support as a result will be able to seek an economic loss payment for those expenses.

The third type of assistance available is a recognition payment. The current scheme provides special assistance payments to a very limited range of victims, being police or emergency services personnel, sexual assault victims or other victims so badly injured that their injury is permanent and has a significant impact on their quality of life.

A high threshold is applied to determine whether the injury is permanent, and only two to three payments are made under the permanent injury criteria each year. The inequitable distribution of payments under the current scheme means that many victims of crime are not eligible for special assistance payments.

For example, under the existing threshold, people in the following situations do not meet the criteria for a recognition payment: a man who was stabbed and suffered significant back pain that prevented him from sitting for long periods, sleeping properly or bending. His existing depression was also aggravated by the offence. Or a woman who suffered injuries to her eye socket and face as the result of an assault. She had to have multiple surgeries and developed depression that prevented her from working. Or a woman who was seriously assaulted with a weapon by her ex-partner, suffered multiple broken bones and ongoing significant pain that prevents her from returning to work.

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