Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Victims of Crime Payments

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN (15:27): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney-General questions regarding victims of crime compensation.

Leave granted.

The Hon. L.A. CURRAN: It was recently reported that the Law Society of SA formally contacted the Attorney-General seeking amendments to the Victims of Crime Act to ensure that the means of calculating compensation payouts for victims of crime adequately reflect the severity of injuries and financial loss. In some cases under the current regime, medical expenses and loss of income have exceeded the amount of compensation received by victims, with the Law Society having the view that there is a compelling argument for increasing payments.

The amendments sought by the Law Society, which include changing the formula used to calculate injury payments and repealing a section of the act directing that those awarded over $2,000 receive only 75 per cent beyond that amount, are also supported by the Commissioner for Victims' Rights. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What is the Attorney-General's response to the Law Society of SA in relation to this proposal?

2. Has the Attorney-General commenced consultation with stakeholders on this matter?

3. When could South Australians expect a bill to be introduced seeking to amend the Victims of Crime Act?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:28): I thank the honourable member for her questions in relation to the Victims of Crime Fund. Of course, the Victims of Crime Fund has funded numerous services as well as direct payments to victims of crime.

In relation to requests that have been made by the Law Society, I have indeed received correspondence from the Law Society putting forward some suggestions in relation to the way the Victims of Crime Fund might be accessed, including, I think, in addition to the areas outlined by the honourable member, payment for legal costs in relation to bringing victims of crime applications.

I have asked for a briefing on the matter and I will consider that and if there are any changes to be made we will bring legislation forward based on advice that I receive, and make sure also that it balances the needs between a sustainable fund and rights of victims. I know that in four years of the previous government these things were open to the Liberal Party to change, but for reasons—and they may be compelling and similar reasons that I will be advised not to make such changes.