At the end of March 2016, two new Acts in ACT and SA were assented to make changes to financial assistance for victims and victim's compensation.
According to the Explanatory Statement, the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act 2016 repeals and replaces the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act 1983 (the repealed Act).
The Act establishes an administrative scheme for providing financial assistance to victims who have been injured as a result of an act of violence. Applications under the new scheme are assessed by the Victims of Crime Commissioner (the commissioner), rather than submitted for a decision of a court, as is the case under the repealed Act.
The new scheme recognises a wide range of victims, provides certainty and transparency of decision-making, consistency and proportionality in the assistance available for various types of offences and timely responses to the individual circumstances of victims of crime. The structure of the new scheme will enhance access to the scheme for victims of crime through: improved case management procedures; simplified application processes; reduced reliance on legal representation and increased transparency of decision-making.
The Act provides three main categories of financial assistance for victims of crime: immediate need payments, economic loss payments and recognition payments. An immediate need payment will be made quickly and when a victim needs it most, to promote recovery, prevent further harm and minimise further threats to safety. Economic loss payments provides for payment of expenses or loss of earnings incurred as a direct result of the injury.
The Act will commence by default on 1 July 2016, if not proclaimed prior to this date.
According to the Second Reading Speech, this Act fulfils the Government's election commitment to double the maximum compensation payment to victims of crime to $100, 000 and to extend eligibility for grief payments to the children of homicide victims. The compensation payment for grief will double to $20, 000 and payments for funeral expenses will double to $14,000.
This Act also provides for the indexation of payments annually. This will ensure that compensation and other payments to victims of crime remain relevant over time.
Schedule 1 of the Act contains an amended scale of compensation that employs numerical values of 0-60 rather than 0- 50. This brings the scale into line with the scale of compensation used in the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA). The maximum amount of compensation payable to victims of crime has been doubled to $100, 000 and the compensation amounts assigned to the other numerical values on the scale have also been increased in a weighted distribution to ensure that victims who have suffered greater loss are more generously compensated. This is similar to the way in which the compensation scale in the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) is designed.
This Act has been taken to have a retrospective commencement of 1 July 2015.
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products.
Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act 2016 (No. 12 of 2016) (ACT) and Secondary Materials as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne
Victims of Crime (Compensation) Amendment Act 2016 (No. 8 of 2016) (SA) and Secondary Materials as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne
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