Victoria: new regulations for organisations that work with victims of crime
08 September 2020
On 30 June 2020, the Victims of Crime Commissioner Regulations 2020 came into force in Victoria. These regulations define ‘prescribed agencies’ (organisations that provide support services to victims of crime) for the purposes of the Victims of Crime Act 2015 (Vic).
Which organisations are ‘prescribed agencies’?
‘Prescribed agencies’ include, to the extent they provide services to victims of crime:
- Community Legal Services
- organisations which receive state funding to provide specialist services to victims of crime, family violence or sexual assault, and
- authorised Hub entities under s.144SB of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)
The full list of prescribed agencies, which also include Victoria Police, Victoria Legal Aid and the Office of Public Prosecutions, is in Regulation 4 of the new Regulations.
What must prescribed agencies do?
Under section 28(1A) of the Victims of Crime Act 2015, prescribed agencies must demonstrate compliance with the Victims’ Charter principles (set out in the Victims’ Charter Act 2006). The Victims’ Charter governs the way the criminal justice system and victims’ service agencies must act when dealing with victims of crime. For example, under the Victims’ Charter principles, victims of crime must:
- be treated with courtesy, respect and dignity
- be treated as a participant in the criminal proceeding
- be informed about services to help them
- be informed about the investigation of the crime
- be informed about the prosecution of the accused
- be asked their views about the prosecution of the accused
- be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused in court
- have an opportunity to write a Victim Impact Statement at sentencing, and
- have an opportunity to apply for financial assistance
A full list of the Victims’ Charter principles is available on the website of the Victims of Crime Commissioner (VoCC).
Information about prescribed agencies’ compliance with the Victims’ Charter, as well data on complaints to the VoCC about their compliance, must be included in the VoCC’s annual report.
How should prescribed agencies demonstrate compliance?
Compliance criteria are yet to be developed. The VoCC is to produce a compliance framework in the coming year.