Australian Institute of Criminology

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Foreword

This report presents the findings of a project funded by Victim Support ACT and ACT Policing to examine the experiences of victims referred by police to support services and the operation of the referral process in the Australian Capital Territory. The findings of the research were presented to Victim Support ACT and ACT Policing in late 2009 and included a number of policy-focused recommendations to enhance the experiences of victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory.

Since the completion of the report in 2009, Victim Support ACT and ACT Policing have used it to facilitate better access to support services for people affected by crime. Following the establishment of the Victims Advisory Board in 2011, the Victims of Crime Commissioner sought the support of the Board to progress matters that had been raised in the report. The Commissioner was of the view that the Board, having a function to develop and maintain protocols and procedures for the treatment of victims by agencies involved in the administration of justice, was well placed to assist Victim Support ACT and ACT Policing to progress these issues. To assist the Board to perform this function, the report is now being published to allow public access to the information.

Since the research was conducted, there have been a number of noteworthy improvements made to the victim support services and police referral processes in the Australian Capital Territory; some of which responded directly to the recommendations made by Australian Institute of Criminology. Examples of such improvements include:

  • The development by ACT Policing of online training relating to victim awareness.
  • Improvements to the AFP Practical Guide on victims of crime (ACT Policing), which outlines the policies and procedures AFP members must follow when dealing with victims of crime in the Australian Capital Territory and the supporting role of Victim Liaison Officers.
  • The announcement by the ACT Attorney General in November 2007 that $4m of funding would be provided for reforms to the management, prosecution and victim support framework for sexual assaults, including the establishment of interagency case management of victims.
  • The establishment of the Victims Advisory Board by the amendments to the Victims of Crime Act 1994, which came into force on 28 February 2011. The Board provides advice on policies, priorities and strategies for the acknowledgement, protection and promotion of the interests of victims in the administration of justice and helps develop and maintain protocols and procedures for the treatment of victims by agencies involved in the administration of justice.
  • The development by ACT Policing and the Victims of Crime Commissioner of a draft protocol aimed at formalising existing information exchange activities between the two agencies.

Improvements have also been seen in other jurisdictions. At the time the research was conducted, the Australian Capital Territory was the only jurisdiction using the SupportLink mechanism to facilitate the referral of victims of crime. Since then, both Victoria and Queensland have begun using the SupportLink framework to provide referrals across metropolitan and rural areas of each state.

While there have been improvements since the research was conducted, the issues raised remain valid and relevant to the development of referral pathways and interagency communication. Thus, the report remains an important reference point to guide the work of Victim Support ACT and ACT Policing in enhancing their partnership to enable victims of crime to access services.

Adam Tomison
Director