CLCNSW Letter regarding the Review of the Victims Rights and Support Act July 2016


A Letter from CLCNSW to the Director, Civil Law of the NSW Department of Justice responding to the review of the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013. Dated 29 July 2016.


The following recommendations were made:

  1. If a person is able to establish an act of violence and injury occurred to the standard of proof of “reasonable likelihood” that should be sufficient. The form of evidence should not be prescribed. Alternatively, documentary evidence should be extended to include documentation from NGOs.

  2. Remove the requirement to prove injury in cases of sexual assault, including child sexual abuse, domestic violence and child abuse, except when necessary to establish aggravating circumstances for a higher category of recognition payment, that is, “serious bodily injury”, “offensive weapon”, “carried out by 2 or more persons”, “one of a series of related acts”, or “grievous bodily harm”.

  3. NSW Police receive training to include a list of injuries in addition to the act of violence in their reports.

  4. Consideration of a new category of recognition payment that recognises multiple injuries as a result of multiple acts of violence that could be described as a global injury.

  5.  Removing upper time limits on recognition payments for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

  6. Removing the 2-year time limit for financial assistance for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and child abuse including for loss of actual earnings and medical and dental expenses.

  7. Choking, suffocation, strangulation or attempts to choke, suffocate or strangle should be specifically included at a minimum as a Category C recognition payment.

  8. Better recognition of physical and psychological forms of domestic violence through higher recognition payments.

  9. Category B recognition payments should be expanded to include domestic violence involving violence that is one of a series of related acts.

  10. Acts of violence currently resulting in a Category B recognition payment should be elevated to Category A ($15,000).

  11. Amending the Act so that children of primary victims, who are under 18 at the time of their parent’s/carer’s death, should automatically qualify for a Category A payment.

  12. Amending the Act so that spouses and de facto partners of primary victims of homicide automatically qualify for a Category B payment.

  13. Victim Services actively supports victims to evidence claims of economic loss or provide appropriate referrals when they are unable to do so.

  14. Improving access to economic loss payments for victims engaged in casual work.

  15. Clarification and simplification of the calculation of loss of actual earnings and that the method of calculation is embedded in the victims support legislation.

  16. Amending the Act to allow an application for internal review to be lodged outside the 28 day time limit where there are exceptional circumstances.

  17.  Amending the Act to ensure external review is available for all claims for financial assistance, including immediate needs and economic loss.

  18. The addition of a new victims support payment called a Disability and Domestic and Family Violence Crisis payment.

  19. Greater transparency in the Victims Services data published relating to the new scheme including the publishing of data as outlined in paragraph 117 below.

  20. Victims Services requests all records relating to a client’s contact with a service rather than narrowing by date.

  21. A question be added to the Victims Support application form to the effect of “If you are unable to identify the medical services you have used but believe Medicare may have a record tick the box and someone from Victims Services can contact you to discuss.”

  22. If the requirement to report to a government agency continues Victims Services should consider improving pathways to all federal agencies, including Centrelink.

  23. Victims Services obtains records of all police evidence held in relation to the application for support.

  24. Victim Services provides listing dates in all matters and clearer communication about delays

  25. The publishing of case studies on decisions by Victims Services on their website.

  26. Clarification about the circumstances in which a support coordinator will be appointed to an applicant.

  27.  Providing victims with access to funded legal assistance for their claims, particularly victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and child abuse.

  28. Amending the legislation so that Victims Services can pay for medical expenses and freedom of information expenses separate to financial assistance.

  29. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse or child abuse must be able to elect whether or not restitution is pursued.

  30. The Commissioner of Victims Rights should be established as independent to government.

  31. With respect to reassessment of transitional matters the government:

  • extend the deadline for making an application to 1 September 2020;

  • provide discretion to extend the time limits on responding to requests for evidence; and

  • continue work on a widespread communications strategy that encompasses a broad range of services and includes culturally appropriate media.


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