Tania Maxwell MP says people harmed by crime have been ‘slapped in the face’ by the decisions of the government and two minor parties to vote against financial assistance changes that would help the recovery of victims and their families.
The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria put a series of amendments to the government’s Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Bill 2022 in the Legislative Council on May 26.
“I recognised during the debate the work that the government has done to reform the help available to victims in recent years,” Ms Maxwell said.
“But financial assistance can be significantly improved.
“That’s why Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party put forward changes.
“Victims of crime need to be certain of adequate, ongoing support so they can deal with the trauma they’ve experienced or witnessed and be safe knowing that help is always available.
“We understand that an assistance scheme has to be sustainable, but it must have robust capacity for victims to get the right support when and where they need it, otherwise recovery can be compromised.
“That’s why we moved to uncap access to counselling help, because preventative investment in mental health for victims and their families can avoid adding burdens to the health and justice systems later on.
“Our party’s other important amendment would have required the appointment of case managers to support victims through recovery, to make sure financial help is effective, and to help guide victims through the often fragmented and stressful process of seeking and receiving assistance.
“But these positive changes were not supported by the government, the Animal Justice Party’s Andy Meddick and the Greens’ Samantha Ratnam.
“The government instead spent 17 minutes batting back the proposals I put to its legislation that it claimed will deliver the most significant reforms to financial assistance for crime victims in 50 years.
“Compare this with the 20 minutes it spent earlier in the day trying to define who could eat or share in a duck shot in the field.”
Ms Maxwell said it was disappointing to see politics being put ahead of people.
“Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will always put the rights and expectations of those we represent before any political agenda,” she said.
“If either the Animal Justice Party or the Greens’ representatives had supported my amendments the vote would have been won 19-18 and victims would be assured of reliable, on-going support for their recovery.”