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.