Kaitlyn Welsh Sacred Heart College Geelong

Becoming a victim of crime can be a very confronting and traumatic experience but the
State of Victoria has made significant efforts to ensure that victims do not have to face
these difficulties alone or without support. Unfortunately, crime does not discriminate –
anyone can become a victim. Victoria has services appropriate for everyone; services
tailored to the needs of diverse cultural backgrounds, a range of support systems for those
with disabilities and specific support for young members of our society. A victim of crime is
anyone defined as having suffered physical or emotional injury, or financial loss because
of the crime committed. A common example of a victim of crime is an individual who has
been injured in a violent attack. That person would not only be suffering physically but also
mentally, so it is vital they receive immediate assistance to help them navigate the often
daunting processes associated with the legal system.

Living in an affluent society in the twenty first century we are lucky that there are many and
varied options for victims of crime to access. For instance, there is the Victims of Crime
Assistance Tribunal. This organization exists to provide financial assistance to victims of
violent crime committed in Victoria. This assistance helps victims afford counseling,
medical, safety-related and funeral costs, lost earnings and other reasonable expenses to
assist a victim in their recovery (VOCAT, 2012). The Victims of Crime Counseling and
Compensation Services Victoria also provides free counseling and professional
compensation. In some instances compensation can be up to $100 000. Although money
cannot erase the pain and suffering at least it can ensure that the innocent victims in our
society receive the best possible assistance in order to recover and be fairly compensated.
Victoria Police also offers support through services such as SupportLink; a trial, non- profit
program. Although it is available to any vulnerable person seeking assistance, a huge
percentage – 40% – are victims of crime (VOCCS, 2012). The Victims Support Agency is
another place a Victorian victim of crime can go to seek help. This organisation is
responsible for coordinating community services to victims of crime in the form of

As well as these support organisations, there are also individuals who dedicate their lives
to helping the victims of crime in Victoria. For example, Councillor David Wilson from the
Melbourne City Council has been supporting Victims of Crime for many years. David offers
his services on a voluntary basis, to offer not only their time but support and listening skills
to victims(VHVSG,2008). Another influential person involved with helping victims of crime
is Dr Nicole Highet who is the deputy CEO of Beyondblue: the national depression
initiative. In 2008 she spoke on post traumatic syndrome in Melbourne for the Victims of
Crime Awareness week. Herself and the organization offer their services to not only those
suffering from depression but their family and friends. The services reach many Victorian
victims of crime because depression can be a direct result of suffering physical and or
emotional injury (beyondblue, 2012).

For those who are technology savvy, particularly members of Gen Y, the internet provides
key information regarding what happens after becoming a victim of crime. If you were to
type in the words ?current support for Victorian victims of crime? the Department of
Justice?s homepage would appear. This website has all the information you as a user
needs, to both inform and give victims information to help make difficult choices. It includes
how to report a crime, and the affects of this action. It also informs you as to whether or
not you will have to make an appearance in court and where you can find a qualified
lawyer to assist you to navigate the legal system (Victims of Crime, 2010). While having all
this information available on the internet is an important step forward for all users and
victims as part of a support strategy it does not and cannot replace human contact.
There are many certainly many positives in the current support offered for the victim?s of
crime in Victoria. There appears to be a very diverse range of organisations and programs
available, from one on one counseling to group sessions. Not only does this support exist
but it is easily accessible, making the process a little easier for a victim of crime. It is
probably difficult for people to appreciate just how important these support systems are
unless they become a victim themselves. The importance of having support groups and
easily available is highlighted in the following quote, from the sister of a murder victim who
attended a support session along with others who were also victims of crime.
“It was comforting to find out that I was not alone. These people understood what I was
going through, after suffering trauma themselves. They were the ones who cared the most
and it was easy to relate to them”
(Giuliano, 1998, p. 160).

This quote demonstrates the importance of providing victims and their families with access
to counseling services, so that they don?t feel alone but apart of a larger support network.
All the support services provided to victims of crime come at a financial cost. These
services require government support and funding which needs to be ongoing. To ensure a
quality service is provided to victims, constant review of the amount and type of funding is
necessary. These services are unable to run on volunteers alone. They require generous
funding that ensures that all resources are easily accessible to all victims and families.
The current Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark has recently announced a proposed
reform that will give victims of crime a stronger voice in the criminal justice system. I think
this is a terrific initiative. The aim is to establish a Victims of Crime Consultative
Committee, a reference group for crime victims to have input into policy and contribute to
improving support services for victims (Premier of Victoria, 2012). This is a significant and
important step forward which will lead to an improved support network for the victims of
crime. Ultimately it is those who have experienced the daunting process of the legal
system when confronted with a crime that are best placed to understand what is needed to
reform and improve the system.

Becoming a victim of crime is a very traumatic and challenging experience. Thankfully, I
have never had to use these services or know of anyone who has, which means I am in
the privileged position of allowing my opinion to be based purely on research. However, in
turn this means that there may be unforeseen problems and difficulties in using the
services that I can not fully appreciate.The measure of how successful these services are
is reflected in the feedback from the users, both positive and negative. This is because
they have experienced first hand how easy or difficult it is to find and access adequate
support and information. It is through this process of constant review that the support
services provided to victims and their families can remain both dynamic and relevant in the

For victims of crime support and advice call 1800 000 055 or go to www.victimsofcrime.com.au

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