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Department of the Attorney General
Annual Report 2015/16
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Agency Performance

Commissioner for Victims of Crime

The position of Commissioner for Victims of Crime was established in July 2013 to advocate on behalf of victims, to give them a greater voice in how they are treated across Government and to ensure victims receive the support they deserve.

The Commissioner for Victims of Crime:

  • advocates for and encourages good practice in the treatment of victims across Government
  • provides a mechanism for victims to lodge complaints regarding Government services
  • provides direct assistance with the preparation of criminal injuries compensation claims and victim impact statements
  • examines and comments on legislation impacting on victims of crime.

Outcomes 2015/16

The Commissioner and Departmental officers met regularly with an extensive group of stakeholders within Government, the non-government sector and with victims of crime.

Regular presentations were also made to raise awareness of the guidelines for treatment of victims under the Victims of Crime Act 1994 (WA), and the availability of supports for victims of crime:

  • The WA Government was the Platinum Sponsor of the 15th International Symposium of the World Society of Victimology held in Perth in 2015. The Commissioner for Victims of Crime presented on the topic of the availability to court decision-makers of “risk relevant” information about victims of crime.

  • The Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime continued a strong work program regarding family violence reform in 2015/16. This included conducting extensive stakeholder consultation on the legislative drafting of the proposed new “Family Violence Restraining Orders”, attendance at Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) Conference in Melbourne, and a regional visit to Albany. The Commissioner is also a member of peak groups such as the Western Australian Family and Domestic Violence Governance Council.

  • The Commissioner took up diverse opportunities to provide professional development on victim of crime issues, including to detectives at the Joondalup Police Academy, the Prisoners Review Board, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Australian Association of Social Workers.

Key achievements included:

  • Significant work was undertaken to support the passage through State Parliament of the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Legislation Amendment Bill 2015. These amendments include important new legislative consideration of, and availability of protection for, victims of crime under the dangerous sexual offender regime.

  • Intensive work occurred throughout 2015/16 on the drafting of a package of “victim safety focussed” family and anti-violence reform legislation, including an overhaul of the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA). Victims are also proposed to have a new ‘voice’ in the bail process under amendments to the Bail Act 1982 (WA) introduced into State Parliament.

  • The extension of the co-located Western Australia Police trial at the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre in Armadale, which involves collaborative work for child victims and their families between police, other Government and non-government child sexual abuse advocates.

As with each year since the establishment of this Office, it is the extensive work for, and collaboration with, individual victims of crime that is the most important effort for the Commissioner for Victims of Crime. Not only does it allow some tailored assistance for people who have experienced hardship, but it also allows the Office to experience the ‘system’ through the eyes of those who are living with harm as a result of crime, and to set its reform priorities accordingly.

Victims of Crime Reference Group

The Victims of Crime Reference Group was established in October 2006 to address victim-related issues and to help improve justice services to victims of crime in Western Australia. The group’s terms of reference are to:

  • advise the Attorney General on policies about how victims are to be treated, support services for victims and entitlements of victims
  • consult victims, community victim groups and State Government agencies on issues and policies concerning victims
  • promote legislative, administrative or other reforms to meet the needs of victims.

The group is chaired by the Commissioner for Victims of Crime, and comprises eight victims of crime, the manager of Victim Support and Child Witness Services in the Department of the Attorney General and representatives from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Australia Police, Department of Corrective Services, Department of Health, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Office of the Attorney General.

There was a particular focus on victim safety, including family violence reform, during 2015/16.

Outcomes 2015/16

Key achievements in 2015/16 included:

  • Building on the success of a similar event in 2015, the Commissioner hosted a public forum during Law Week 2016 to raise community awareness and build community capacity to support victims of crime. The forum included presentations from the Commissioner for Victims of Crime, and from Mr Rob Guthrie, an assessor from the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation. Attendees then met with members of the Victims of Crime Reference Group and others involved in victim support and assistance over morning tea.

  • A consultation meeting with Mr Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner for Western Australia, regarding information privacy and disclosure practices, and the relevance of this for victims of crime and their safety.

  • Meeting to consider and provide feedback on the ‘Family Violence Restraining Orders Drafting Options Paper’ that had been released by the Department of the Attorney General. Comments from this session directly informed the drafting of the proposed legislation.

  • Holding an end of year afternoon tea for group members, attended by the Attorney General. A meeting following this event commenced planning for the major work focus for 2016/17, which is cybercrime and technology facilitated abuse.

Last updated: 27-Sep-2016

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