New laws have been passed in the Victorian Parliament that will make it easier for victims of crime, like those in Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong, to get the financial help they need and help them recover from the crime of violence.
The change will see the Crime Victims Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) replaced with an administrative financial assistance program that is built around the needs of victims and aims to minimize trauma.
The program has been supported by a four-year investment of $39 million in the 2022/23 Victorian budget. This is on top of a $54.6 million investment in the Victorian 21/22 budget.
As part of state government reform, victims will be able to receive a victim acknowledgment statement that acknowledges the effects of the crime as well as a plain language written statement of the reasons for decisions.
Victims will be able to request a victim acknowledgment meeting where they can talk about the harm done to them and have their experience recognized by a regime representative.
It will also expand the eligibility of people who can apply for assistance in recognizing Indigenous kinship relationships, chosen LGBTQI families, and other family members that an applicant may consider to be immediate family.
The program will also recognize children exposed to family violence as victims in their own right.
Victims’ Services Minister Natalie Hutchins said: ‘This is the biggest change in 50 years for victims of crime injured as a result of violence – with more victims to become eligible and a more favorable system.”
“For many victims, going to court exacerbates their trauma and far too many victims give up or simply don’t seek the help they need – we are addressing this by giving them the support they need to get well.”