Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy
A Liberal Nationals Government will put victims first in our criminal justice system.
In 2014, the Coalition Government through then Attorney-General the Hon. Robert Clark, asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to inquire into the role of victims in the criminal trial process.
The terms of reference were broad and intended to pave the way for historic reforms to the rights of victims to participate in the trial process more meaningfully, as well as receive the dignity, support and compensation they deserve.
Although the VLRC submitted its final report with 51 recommendations to the Government in August 2016, Daniel Andrews has still said nothing about the importance of the report and the opportunities it opens up to help victims.
Today, the Liberal Nationals announce they will in government implement key recommendations of the report and build upon the Coalition’s record of strong support for victims through several reforms between 2010 and 2014.
Victims must be given a real voice
For far too long, many victims have felt disconnected with the trial process and unable to tell the story of their anguish and trauma.
In implementing recommendations 15 to 31 of the VLRC report, we will give victims a more prominent place in the trial process, in particular, through changes to victim impact statements that will allow victims to have their say without their statements being unfairly picked apart.
We will also give victims standing to appear in criminal trials in a wider range of circumstances and empower the Victims of Crime Commissioner to review complaints by victims and report on the implementation of the Victims’ Charter Act 2006. These latter changes are suggested in recommendations 7 to 14.
While nothing can completely comfort victims traumatised by horrific criminal acts, victims are owed a more active role in the trial process.
If Daniel Andrews won’t fix the problems with our justice system, then we will.
Victims should have better access to compensation
Under a Liberal Nationals Government, victims will be able to access compensation and restitution for personal injury and property damage from criminals far more easily.
We will implement recommendations 45 to 51 of the VLRC report so that, in particular, victims can be better informed about their rights and make use of simplified procedures to ease their access to compensation and restitution from offenders.
The Sentencing Act 1991 will be amended to allow courts to order restitution and compensation on their own motion and also to require courts to make inquiries as to whether an application for restitution or compensation will be made.
Further, the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 will be amended to require investigators and prosecutors to inform victims of their possible entitlements to compensation under the Sentencing Act 1991 and refer them to available legal assistance.
Criminals should not only face tough sentencing, they should account to their victims and pay financially for the hurt and suffering they have caused.
A future Liberal Nationals Government will also go beyond the VLRC report and explore with the Commonwealth any potential ways to give victims a means of access to the superannuation entitlements of criminals.
The Victorian asset confiscation scheme extends to beneficial entitlements of criminals and suspected criminals. There is no good reason why superannuation entitlements should be treated differently to any other asset a criminal owns or may realise at some future point.
Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Matthew Guy:
A Liberal Nationals Government I lead will put the rights of victims before those of violent criminals.
Victims deserve more say and influence and if I am Premier that is exactly what they’ll get.
We need to ensure our justice system prioritises the rights victims and makes the process as simple as possible because after enduring the horrific trauma and loss of a loved one, they deserve nothing less.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto:
Daniel Andrews has sat on this report for far too long and it is clear the rights of victims are simply not a priority for him.
The Andrews Labor Government has failed to address the crime crisis and now failed to address this crucial report and put the rights of victims first.
Media contact: Michael Lewis 0433 495 454 firstname.lastname@example.org
***Appendix attached contains VLRC report recommendations and Coalition’s responses***