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Publication date: 6 June 2018
New laws introduced today will make it faster and easier for victims of crime and their families to access financial assistance and counselling, particularly those impacted by domestic violence and homicide.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said a statutory review recommended 17 amendments to the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 and Regulation, including more counselling for victims in rural NSW and improving recognition for families of homicide victims.
“These changes will provide greater clarity and ensure more victims and families get the support they need to recover from the trauma of being victims of violent crimes,” he said.
The Victims Support Scheme provides free counselling, financial assistance for things such as medical bills, relocation costs, loss of earnings and funeral expenses, as well as recognition payments to support victims getting back on their feet. Survivors of child sex abuse in NSW institutions are eligible for unlimited counselling.
Although crime rates are falling, the demand for victims support has increased with a record 118,927 calls to Victims Services and 19,573 applications for counselling and financial assistance in 2016-17, an increase of 16 per cent since 2015-16.
Despite the huge demand, it took an average of 49 days for victims of crime and their families to receive financial assistance in the financial year 2016-17 compared with 31 months to access support under the previous scheme.
In June 2017, Mr Speakman asked the Sentencing Council to review victims’ involvement in sentencing. The NSW Government will respond to this Report in the coming months.