Changes to the Victims of Crime Act will make it easier and less stressful for victims to access compensation.
The amendments, which will be introduced to State Parliament today, bring South Australia into line with other states by removing the requirement for victims to have any further contact with the offender in their case.
Under the current Act, claimants must serve a copy of their application for compensation for pain and suffering and economic loss, on the offender. The applications are required to contain information that is private and sensitive, such as medical reports.
Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the both victims’ legal representatives and the Crown Solicitor’s Office had raised concerns the requirement represented a risk of renewed violence against victims or bringing back stressful memories.
“For many victims, such an application can be stressful and traumatic, particularly for domestic violence victims and victims of sexual offending,” Ms Chapman said.
“Quite simply, it is unacceptable that seeking compensation may expose a victim of crime to the risk of reliving their trauma or, even worse, exposing them to further violence as a result of their contact with the offender.
“This is why we have sought to address this and ensure the victim does not need to have any further contact with the offender.”
The amendments will mean that offenders no longer need to be served with a copy of the compensation application.
Instead, the offender will now only be contacted by the Crown Solicitor’s Office when the compensation application has concluded and the State initiates recovery proceedings against the offender.
“This ensures that all communications with the offender occur directly with the Crown Solicitor’s Office, once compensation has been finalised,” she said.
“The victim will have no need to make any kind of contact with the offender, and can hopefully get through this process with less stress and trauma.”
As a result of the amendments, the Crown Solicitor’s Office will also be able to develop a simpler notification for the offender which does not disclose sensitive information.
This will still allow the offender to make submissions about the amount to be recovered, but will be much safer for the victim.
“This Bill makes only a small change to the legislation, but it will have an outsized positive impact for victims negotiating the victims of crime compensation system in this State,” Ms Chapman said.