A recent study has further emphasized the importance of early intervention post injury and how this impacts on those seeking compensation. This study completed in mid-2013 and conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, examined the relationship between mental health, compensation and health outcomes over a six year period.

The findings suggest that there is a relationship between compensation stress and the level of disability – people who experienced a high level of stress when engaging in compensation processes reported higher levels of long-term disability. Early symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression were associated with increased risk of experiencing compensation-seeking as stressful. The findings from this research suggest that early interventions that target posttraumatic stress disorder and depression may be effective in improving health outcomes after injury, especially for those seeking compensation.

The current treatment model for victims of crime in Victoria promoted and administered by the Victims Support Agency (VSA) has been shown to take on average some six months between the time the victim seeks help and the time the victim subsequently receives help. This time frame is extremely excessive and by all research based models totally inadequate and contrary to recovery and most likely possibly contributing to the victims’ injuries.

While the Victims Support Agency has failed and is continuing to fail to provide adequate support for victims of crime in Victoria it is at the same time proactively deterring other organizations from doing so by attempting to monopolize the provision of such services. For example, if a victim of crime sought treatment independently, and not via the VSA, they could potentially receive that treatment immediately – when needed and when it would most likely make a difference – not some six months later when symptoms have become entrenched.

While all past and current research indicates the total inadequacy of the VSA in appropriately meeting the needs of victims of crime in Victoria the VSA has also failed to attempt to address and rectify these issues, but rather the VSA has embarked on a policy of ‘smoke and mirrors’ including a blatant failure to comply with the State Auditor General’s request to show that the VSA is meeting targeted goals. No private organization would be able to continue business if it was believed that the business was contrary to the best interest of their clients and no organization would be funded unless it could adequately demonstrate that it was in fact meeting those needs. The VSA has failed on both these tests yet it continues to receive funding – funding which is ironically potentially used contrary to the best interest of victims of crime. It is about time that Victorian state politicians interested in the best interest of victims investigate this extraordinary anomaly.

We now call on Mr Martin Pakula, Victorian Shadow Attorney General, to raise this matter in parliament and to ask the current Victorian Government why it has allowed the Victims Support Agency to continue to fail victims of crime and why the VSA has failed to acknowledge and respond to all the research confirming this fact and why it has blatantly failed to be accountable, contrary to the requests of the Auditor General.

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