• Loddon Herald

Victim protection strengthened

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party says it has secured government agreement to extend

protections for people harmed by crime from facing their offenders at Victims of Crime

Assistance Tribunal hearings.

Member for Northern Victoria Region Tania Maxwell said she had successfully amended the government’s omnibus workplace safety bill in the Legislative Council to stop stalkers and people threatening serious injury or death from attending or being notified of tribunal proceedings.


In her statement, Ms Maxwell said:

“Where a victim seeks help on the path to recovery, the government rightly wanted to

prohibit someone who has committed, or is accused of committing, family violence or

abhorrent sexual offences from being given notice of the time and place where the hearing

is to occur,” Ms Maxwell said.

“This is a welcome protection for victims, but in Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party we believed the

changes should go further.

“Threatening to kill, do serious harm and stalking happen within the home and family

relationships.

“But these horrific offences also occur beyond it – where people work, socialise and

communicate – and they’re widely reported as being markers for future violence.

“Threat re-offending occurs at twice the rate for all offenders in Victoria, and there’s no

substantial difference in re-offending rates between family situations and elsewhere.”

Ms Maxwell said a Victorian Law Reform Commission paper had reported almost 13,900

stalking offences recorded by Victoria Police, with stalking in the context of family violence

occurring at only a slightly higher rate than in other situations.

“Similarly, in the eight years to December 2019, more than 66,000 threat offences were

recorded by police in Victoria,” she said.

“Nearly two thirds of these were threats to kill and more than half were associated with

family violence.

“That means a substantial proportion were unrelated to family violence, and I think we have

a responsibility to provide protection and support for those victims in the same way that we

protect victims of family violence.”


Ms Maxwell said threat offences cause immediate fear but also limit a victim’s freedom of

choice.

“Someone who has a fixation on a person, perhaps without even knowing them personally,

can wreak havoc in their victim’s life,” she said.

“An opportune offender can use the knowledge of their target’s VOCAT hearing to offend

again – such as placing a tracking device on the victim or their vehicle.

“Simply being in the vicinity of the tribunal can become an act of intimidation, alone

deterring a victim from even making an application for assistance.”

Ms Maxwell’s amendment was also supported by the opposition.




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