[Referral to the Commission pursuant to section 5(2)(a) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic) on 7 July 2017].
In November 2016, the Victorian Law Reform Commission was asked to consider the operation and effectiveness of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (VOCA Act) for family violence victims in response to recommendation 106 of the Family Violence Royal Commission (the first reference).
The Commission is asked to expand the first reference to consider the operation and effectiveness of the VOCA Act and the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal for all victims, including family violence victims in achieving the purposes set out in section 1 of the VOCA Act.
The Commission is asked to provide a single report incorporating the first reference and the expanded reference to the Attorney General no later than the 27 July 2018.
In conducting the review and making its recommendations, the Commission is asked to bear in mind that a state-funded assistance scheme for victims should seek to achieve outcomes for victims that:
- are fair, equitable and timely
- are consistent and predictable
- minimise trauma for victims and maximise the therapeutic effect for victims.
The state-funded scheme must also be efficient and sustainable for the state.
In particular, the Commission is asked to consider whether:
- the VOCA Act can be simplified to make it easier for applicants to understand all their potential entitlements and quickly and easily access the assistance offered by the scheme without necessarily requiring legal support.
- the VOCA Act recognises the appropriate people as victims.
- the tests for eligibility for assistance and the evidence required to meet those tests can be simplified to avoid unnecessary or disproportionate costs being incurred
- the definition of ‘act of violence’, the time limits, categories of assistance and structure and timing of awards are appropriate and are adequate to account for harm, including harm caused by multiple acts such as family violence, or where there is a significant delay in reporting a crime
- the basis of the formula in section 8A of the VOCA Act used to quantify special financial assistance is the most appropriate way to calculate the amount payable by the state for harm arising from crime
- it is appropriate and fair to award assistance to aid recovery in exceptional circumstances (as allowed by section 8 of the VOCA Act) and whether there are other ways to promote the recovery of victims from the effects of crime
- it is appropriate in certain circumstances (as is currently the case) for alleged perpetrators of a crime to be notified of applications to VOCAT or to be called to give evidence
- any processes, procedures or requirements under the VOCA Act cause unnecessary delay to the provision of assistance to victims of crime. In considering this, the Commission is asked to consider whether there are other models that would more effectively deliver assistance, for example an administrative or quasi administrative model.