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Victim assistance costs

A number of costs associated with providing services to victims of crime were estimated. These include providing victim compensation, victim support services, the costs associated with homelessness services due to domestic violence, child protection services for those children experiencing criminal child abuse, the value of volunteer time and costs associated with decreasing the violence against women. It is anticipated that the costs will underestimate the full expenditure associated with providing victim assistance.

Victim support

There are a range of services available for victims of crime, the majority of which focus on personal and or violent crimes. The funding for these services is predominately provided by state and territory governments and as such, the costs of these services have already been accounted for in the criminal justice costs that looked at state/territory budgets.

Victim compensation

In addition to victim support services are the costs of providing financial compensation to victims of crime. All states and territories have schemes that provide financial assistance or compensation to victims of violent crimes (the majority of schemes also provide financial assistance for witnesses and family members of violent crimes); however, the specific details of the schemes vary between jurisdictions. In 2011–12, the total amount spent by states and territories was just over $177m for victim compensation in 2011–12 (see Table 33).

Table 33 Victim compensation payments, by state and territory
Jurisdiction Cost ($m)
New South Wales 63
Victoria 48
Queensland 8a
South Australia 17
Western Australia 33
Tasmania 3
Northern Territory 4
Australian Capital Territory 1
Total 177

a: Queensland figure obtained from 2010–11 Victim Assistance Queensland, the corresponding 2011–12 amount was unavailable

Source: Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General and Justice 2012; NSWVCT 2012; Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General 2012; South Australia Department of Attorney-General 2012; Tasmania Department of Justice 2012; Victim Support ACT 2012; VVCAT 2012; Western Australia Department of the Attorney General 2012

Homelessness related to domestic violence

From 1 July 2011, the Specialist Homelessness Services replaced the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (AIHW 2012d). The total recurrent expenditure on homelessness for 2011–12 was just over $491m. This was in respect of service delivery expenditure only and does not include the additional $15.4m for administrative expenditure (SCRGSP 2013). ‘Domestic violence services’ is one of the categories of support that comprises the Specialist Homelessness Services provided by the AIHW and represents 23 percent of the amount spent on homelessness services. The total amount spent on women escaping domestic violence was $113m for 2011–12.

Child protection

Some of the costs for out-of-home care services and child protection services were included in the estimates. The total cost of child protection and out-of-home care services was almost $3b in 2011–12; an increase of 3.5 percent on the figure for 2010–11 (AIHW 2013b). Following the same methodology as Mayhew (2003b) and Rollings (2008) used, it was assumed that one-half of that expenditure could be set against criminal child abuse, representing a total of $1.5b (SCGSP 2013). This figure is over double the amount estimated by Rollings (2008), who found that $692m of child protection and out-of-home care services were allocated for criminal child abuse. AIHW (2013b) found that between 2009–10 and 2011–12, the number of children who were the subject of substantiations (of child abuse and neglect) increased from 6.1 to 7.4 per 1,000 children.

The Office for Women

The Australian Government Office for Women is currently part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and was formerly within the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. In the 2011–12 budget, the year closest to the reference period of the current research, it was allocated almost $32m (FaHCIA 2012). The role of the Office for Women is to advise and support the delivery of policies that will provide positive benefits for women and all Australians and has three main areas of work—women’s economic security, women’s equal place in society and reducing violence against women. With respect to the goal of reducing violence against women, the appropriation comprised $3.13m for 2011–12. This was to finance the 1800 RESPECT helpline for women who had been a victim of sexual violence or family violence, $1.25m for community action grants to assist in promoting respectful attitudes towards women, $3m for Frontline Workers in the form of support for allied health workers, childcare staff and paramedics who deal with violence against women, $1.6m to improve services for women who have been the victim of domestic violence and $1.7m to establish a National Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Violence against Women (Women’s Budget Statement 2012). The total amount allocated to victim services within the Office for Women was almost $11m in 2011–12.

The value of volunteer time

The value of volunteer time is costed by calculating the proportion of volunteers in Australia who spent time volunteering their services for a community or welfare group. This particular category was chosen as it included organisations and institutions that provided human and social services to the general community and specific population groups, such as victims of crime (ABS 2010).

Volunteering statistics from 2006 were relied on, as the ABS Voluntary Work Survey 2010 did not ask how many hours of time volunteers spent on volunteer work, making comparable data unavailable. In the ABS Voluntary Work Survey 2006 (ABS 2006c), there were 59 million hours spent by people volunteering for community and/or welfare groups (this category included volunteer work assisting victims of crime). Rollings (2008) noted that this was a reduction from the estimate in the 2000 survey, with no explanation offered.

Rollings’ (2008) estimate of five percent of the total volunteer time spent on community/welfare groups being allocated to victim services was employed in this report. This resulted in an estimate of three million hours spent of volunteer time providing services to victims of crime.

The average hourly wage in 2011 was $25.83 (ABS 2012c); therefore, it is estimated that in 2011, the value of volunteer time spent on victims’ services was $76m. This is separate from the costs associated with volunteers who deal with incidents of arson, which was estimated above to be $319.3m in 2011.

The total amount spent on victims’ services for 2011–12 is estimated at $1,877m (see Table 34).

Table 34 Victim assistance costs
Category Cost ($m)
Victim compensation payments 177
Homelessness related to domestic violence 113
Child protection 1,500
Office for Women expenditure 11
Volunteering (other than arson) 76
Total 1,877