O’Farrell and Nile betray victims of crime

As you may be aware, in the early hours of this morning the NSW Parliament passed the perversely named Victims Rights and Support Bill 2013.

This bill represents an unprecedented attack on the rights of victims of crime.

Our deep concerns about this legislation include:

  • Caps on payments according to categories of “recognition” payments – these payments are not only substantially lower than existing payments in most instances, they do not take into consideration the actual impact of the crime on the person’s life
  • Most victims of prolonged domestic violence will likely be eligible for only the lowest class of recognition payment (namely $1,500) or none at all
  • It will apply retrospectively to all claims – including the approximately 24,000 existing claimed filed with the VCT
  • Mandatory documentary evidence required to prove claims includes reports from the Police or Government Agencies – meaning many victims who first report to support services may have trouble proving their claim.

As I argued in the debate on this legislation:

One can judge a government by how it deals with the most vulnerable. In one bill this Government gave a $300-million tax concession to clubs for poker machines. …. Just that one decision would not only fund the entire deficit in the Victims Compensation Scheme but could improve the entitlements and rights available in the scheme.

Government is about choices. This Government has made a choice—namely, to give tax concessions to clubs for poker machines and utterly gut compensation payments to victims of crime.

In the negotiations on this bill a minor amendment was secured, one that would exempt victims of childhood sexual abuse from a 10 year limit within which any compensation claims had to be made. It was this relatively minor amendment to a brutal piece of legislation that secured the support of Fred Nile and his Christian Democratic Party, meaning the Government had the numbers to pass this legislation.

The complete debate is available on the Parliamentary website here.

The Greens NSW and Labor both argued strongly against these changes. In an extraordinary move, Government members did not even speak up to defend this legislation in the house.

We will be making a submission to the Royal Commission regarding the need for basic minimum standards for State based compensation schemes which provide essential support to those who cannot recover compensation from any relevant institutions. We encourage you to do the same.

My website will be updated as more information about this is available. Please also let me know if you would like to be on our contact list for victims compensation matters.

Please share this webpage with any other people or organisations who you think may be interested.

Thank you,

David Shoebridge.

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7 Responses to O’Farrell and Nile betray victims of crime

  1. Peter COOTE May 31, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Yes this is unfair on victims of crime. But I would also understand that burdening respectable tax payers to compensate is somewhat unjust too. I would like to see the system where the person who did the act pay, through confiscation of property assets then they might think twice about ever doing the same crime again. Typical example would be nurse Dean who set fire to the Quakers Hill Nursing home no doubt he would have assets cars money in banks.

    • David May 31, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Peter, I agree and this already happens with those found criminally guilty facing asset confiscation. At present half of all criminal assets that are seized are tipped into the scheme. It does not raise very much money though. The facts are that the people who cause the damage rarely have sufficient assets to pay for the cost of it. Some are deceased. Many, thankfully, are in jail. This means we need the State to step in. David.

  2. Jennifer Herrick May 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Peter what about community responsibility for each other? And what a about those with no money to compensate? And what about redistributing funds in Gov as a solution?

  3. Helen May 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Why do people consider that compensation to victims is a cost to them personally?
    Any money in compensation is immediately put back into the community, usually it is reimbursement for specific services, medical costs and counselling, that has already occurred. There is no big wad of money going heedlessly into pockets with Victims of Crime compensation.
    We have antiquated, unfair, and unworkable compensation systems, that primarily feed lawyers in each State.
    It is time for some substantial reform.
    Victims compensation is needed so that people can get back to getting on with their lives. It is logical and financially compelling to assist people who have gone through a terrible ordeal to be able to recover and resume their normal activities, like work, family, friends.
    People get the concept of car insurance because they understand a car accident could happen to them.
    For some reason, the ‘respectable’ comment above, from Peter Coote, is typical of people who think that a violent crime could never happen to them, or to a member of their family, or to anyone they care about. This is head in the sand material, probably golf bunker sized!

  4. M.H. June 1, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    I totally disagree with Peter Coote. Society has the responsibility to protect its citizens. When authorities are warned and fail to take action to prevent harm – and even fabricate evidence and bias child abuse investigations they run to cover up their failures as in our case – then those authorities need to be accountable to the victim.

    The burden on the taxpayers would not be there if the taxpayers and the Government acted to arrest those that actually broke the laws and left children at risk. The taxpayers have the responsibility to ensure that its Government and agencies act honestly and should be burdened with the cost when it does not.

    If the Government acted in an honest and open manner with child abuse and the victims were allowed a real say we would refer it never happen to our children. The Government has the responsibility, by moral principals, by International Agreements and by Statutes, to act to prevent child abuse when they are warned of it. If the Government fabricates evidence in order not to do this and to cover it up the victim should be compensated.

  5. M.H. June 2, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Why wasn’t my comment published? Do you only publish stuff you agree with or is everyone allowed a say in a democracy?

    • Mark Riboldi June 3, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      M.H,

      Have patience. Comments on the website are generally not attended to outside of office hours.

      Mark