In 2009 – 2010 there were over 39,000 reported crimes against a person, a 33% increase over the past ten years.
In the same period of time there was less than 5,000 successful crimes compensation applications which means that around 88% of all eligible victims did not receive assistance from their tax funded entitlements for financial restitution and to assist them to recover from the effects of crime. This is similar to 88% of all people involved in a motor vehicle accident not making a claim with their insurance company!
In Victoria we currently have a two tier system for accessing support for victims of crime, a public system and a private one. The public system operates through the Victims Support Agency (VSA) and which manages the Victims Helpline and which in turn refers called to the Victims Assistance and Counselling Programs (VACPs).
A recent $250,000.00 audit by the Victoria Auditor-General’s Department found that the VSA has been unable to show that it has met any of its target gaols over the past two years. Furthermore, the same report has indicated that while the objective of the system is to provide immediate support to victims of crime it cited that some VACPs have waiting lists of up to five months and are unable to show that their services are delivered as intended or are of any benefit.
Furthermore, according to the same report the Helpline sends callers to these public services at the expense of private services and which is possibly in breach of the Victims Charter, and which ironically is enforced by the VSA. According to the Victims’ Charter agencies are to provide clear, timely and consistent information about relevant support services, and they are obviously clearly failing to do so by failing to inform victims of their right to access services outside of this questionable public model.
This failing public model needs to be immediately overhauled and a free democratic model for the delivery of services to victims of crime, similar to that of our Workcover or TAC systems, needs to be allowed to evolve and this is the only way to ensure the prompt, efficient and appropriate delivery of services to victims of crime.
For any further information contact Domenic Greco, Psychologist, Victims of Crime Counselling Services, 163 Victoria Parade Fitzroy, 3065. Freecall: 1800 000 055.