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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Premier in Western Queensland
    The Honourable Kerry Shine

    Increased funding and support for victims of crime


    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Premier in Western Queensland
    The Honourable Kerry Shine

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Increased funding and support for victims of crime

    Victims of crime will have access to faster, more effective financial assistance as well as coordinated support services under sweeping reforms to Queensland’s victim compensation scheme announced today.

    Premier Anna Bligh and Attorney-General Kerry Shine said the new Victims Financial Assistance Scheme, which will replace the current scheme under the Criminal Offence Victims Act 1995, would receive funding of $29 million a year – an increase of more than $7 million.

    This will result in significant increases in the amount of assistance available to the families of victims of criminal violence as well as new categories of funding.

    Ms Bligh and Mr Shine announced:

    • Financial assistance for related victims - such as the dependents of those killed as a result of criminal violence - will be more than doubled from a maximum of $39,000 to $100,000 per family;
    • A new compensation category for secondary victims - such as the parents of children who have suffered sexual abuse – with a maximum payment of up to $50,000; and
    • The existing maximum of $75,000 for primary victims, who have personally experienced an act of violence, will continue.

    “The Victims Financial Assistance Scheme will be available to a broader range of victims and make it easier for them to get on with their lives by cutting waiting times and reducing costs.

    “Our current criminal injury compensation scheme has not been substantially reviewed since its introduction 13 years ago and the new scheme will be a far more efficient one,” Ms Bligh said.

    "For example, under the current scheme, many victims are required to front court again to apply for compensation- this new scheme removes any requirement to do so."

    “Additionally, victims will also be able to seek interim funding of up to $6,000 immediately after a serious crime to cover such urgent costs as funeral expenses and relocation costs when the home is a crime scene.

    “At the moment, victims sometimes have to wait years for compensation and also have to bear the medical and legal expenses associated with their claims.

    “Under the new scheme, they will be able to seek reasonable medical and legal costs incurred in making their application.”

    Mr Shine said an expanded and more coordinated Victim Assistance Unit would also be established to help victims access funding, care and professional services.

    “This will link all of the services for victims of crime in a one-stop shop,” Mr Shine said.

    “The new unit will employ staff in the five key areas of financial assistance assessment, service coordination, hotline and website services, training and court support.

    “A team of assessors will ensure claims are finalised in a timely manner, as well as making the process easier and less daunting than the current criminal compensation scheme.

    “Another team will coordinate the government and non-government services available to victims across the state, particularly in regional and remote areas.

    “A team of counsellors in the new unit will provide intensive support to victims of crime who are also witnesses in trials against the alleged offenders.”

    Mr Shine said the establishment of the new scheme would mark a significant change of focus from criminal compensation to financial assistance and professional support.

    "The government currently allocates $21.2 million to fund the scheme and will increase this funding to about $28.8 million a year by 2011-12.

    “In addition to this, the government is also injecting a further $12.35 million this financial year to reduce the backlog of claims under the current scheme.

    “The new scheme will focus on victims’ actual expenses related to their recovery.

    “It will also ensure state funds are directed towards helping victims and maximising their chances of recovery through early intervention and tailored assistance.”

    A draft bill outlining the new scheme will be released for public consultation early next year.

    Monday, 24 November 2008

    Media: Chris Taylor 0419 710 874