Vic­tims and adult of­fend­ers could meet face-to-face un­der new re­forms

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIPPA BUTT

TER­RI­TORY vic­tims of crime will for the first time have the chance to meet adult per­pe­tra­tors, if po­ten­tial re- forms to the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem are put in place.

The re­form was just one of the sug­ges­tions out­lined in a new NT Gov­ern­ment dis­cus­sion pa­per about vic­tims of crime. The Ter­ri­tory cur­rently only has vic­tim-of­fender con­fer­enc­ing for some youth of­fend­ers. The con­fer­ences would only be avail­able for less se­ri­ous of­fences and to those who had pleaded guilty.

“One of the key ben­e­fits of vic­tim-of­fender con­fer­enc­ing is that it pro­vides vic­tims, who of­ten feel ex­cluded and dis­em­pow­ered by the tra­di­tional jus­tice process, with an op­por­tu­nity to more ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the jus­tice process,” the dis­cus­sion pa­per stated.

Other po­ten­tial re­forms high­lighted in the dis­cus­sion pa­per in­clude mak­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance eas­ier to ac­cess.

Po­ten­tial pay­outs could be as much as $30,000 for eco­nomic loss.

VIC­TIMS of crime will for the first time in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory have the chance to meet the adult per­pe­tra­tors, if po­ten­tial re­forms to the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem are put in place.

The re­form was just one of the sug­ges­tions out­lined in a new NT Gov­ern­ment dis­cus­sion pa­per about vic­tims of crime – the Ter­ri­tory cur­rently only has vic­tim-of­fender con­fer­enc­ing for some youth of­fend­ers.

The con­fer­ences would only be avail­able for less se­ri­ous of­fences and to those who had al­ready pleaded guilty.

“One of the key ben­e­fits of vic­tim-of­fender con­fer­enc­ing is that it pro­vides vic­tims, who of­ten feel ex­cluded and dis­em­pow­ered by the tra­di­tional jus­tice process, with an op­por­tu­nity to more ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the jus­tice process,” the dis­cus­sion pa­per stated.

“This can be em­pow­er­ing for vic­tims and help them to heal.”

Other po­ten­tial re­forms high­lighted in the dis­cus­sion pa­per in­clude mak­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance eas­ier to ac­cess, and im­prov­ing resti­tu­tion and com­pen­sa­tion or­ders made un­der the Sen­tenc­ing Act.

Po­ten­tial pay­outs could be as much as $30,000 for eco­nomic loss, $8000 for funeral ex­penses and recog­ni­tion pay­ments of be­tween $1000 and $15,000.

Vic­tims would also be of­fered up to 12 hours of coun­selling (which could be ex­tended to 22 hours if nec­es­sary).

The pro­pos­als will be fur­ther de­vel­oped, fol­low­ing the feed­back from all stake­hold­ers.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Natasha Fyles said vic­tims of crime needed to come first.

“This is why we are strength­en­ing the char­ter of Vic­tims’ Rights, and this is why we want to im­prove the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance scheme to bet­ter sup­port vic­tims of vi­o­lent crimes,” she said. “This dis­cus­sion pa­per gives Ter­ri­to­ri­ans the op­por­tu­nity to have their say on th­ese re­forms.

“We want to make sure that vic­tims of crime get all the sup­port they need and de­serve from this leg­is­la­tion.”

To read the re­form pro­pos­als and ac­cess the dis­cus­sion pa­per, visit jus­tice.nt.gov.au/at­tor­ney- gen­eral- and- jus­tice/ law-re­form-re­views

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