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Attorney-General and Justice – Victims of Crime Compensation

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Tags: Mental Health, Crime, Justice

Dr WOODRUFF - I have a related matter, in the area of victims of crime compensation. There was an extremely shocking murder of a young family man in southern Tasmania not long ago. I'm not going to go into the details. I don't want to retraumatise families and friends. Let's just say there was a young family left without a parent. The number of people directly affected who were witnesses or respondents - paramedics and police - is not insubstantial. I think it's in the order of 10 or 12. The numbers of people who were indirectly affected but were children, parents orsiblings is much larger.

Ms ARCHER - I think I know the case you're referring to, because I have had discussions about this with someone who provided them with some assistance.

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, okay. They'll never be the same. Some of them will never recover. The Victims of Crime Assistance Act provides funds to compensate victims for criminal acts. Compensation is available for medical expenses, and importantly that does include counselling. What we're concerned about is that a person who witnessed a crime is only able to paid a maximum or $20 000. A relative can be paid a maximum of $10 000.

Without going into too much detail, one of the family members has been so affected that there is severe and ongoing damage and medical expenses. It is very likely, given the young age of that person, that it's going to be going on for a very long time.

Would you commit re-evaluating those amounts? I understand it's capped at $50 000 in total for a case. In this instance it shows the deficiencies, when you've just got two people who might take that amount of money. That's not including paramedics and police, some of whom are highly traumatised. Would you reconsider or look at that?

Ms ARCHER - In relation to State Service personnel, there are programs in place for them in the line of their duty for counselling and other services they can access which is covered by the Government. In relation to private individuals, I believe it's probably some time since that act has been reviewed and looked at. I've just whispered to the department secretary that it would be timely to look at that act.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. This case has made clear that there are some deficiencies in the structure of the victims of crime compensation unit. I don't want to reflect on the staff; I don't know the circumstances. I think it's fair to say that skills, training and resourcing ought to be looked at.

Ms ARCHER - We can certainly review processes.

Dr WOODRUFF - … One of the things relayed to me is that these people are so traumatised, they can't keep information in their mind and a lot of the things being asked of them are not being written down. It's not clearly documented, so they're not being walked through the process as much as they have to be. If you could look at that also.

Ms ARCHER - We will look at that. I think that [inaudible] they are in. He is rapidly taking notes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. I am very grateful for that on behalf of the person.