Help improve our criminal justice system

July 7, 2021

The criminal justice system inquiry now underway in Victoria is the broadest in 30 years.

The inquiry has come about after horrific murders in Wangaratta in 2015 and 2016. A rapist on parole committed one of these crimes. The other was committed by a previously convicted violent offender who had just been released from prison for breaching parole.

These awful events spurred a community campaign called ENOUGHISENOUGH that led to my election as a parliamentarian. They’re also the reason why the inquiry’s first hearing opened in Wangaratta on June 30, this year.

The Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee – of which I’m a member with six other MPs – is conducting the inquiry.

The committee is chaired by Fiona Patten who, in this video with me and deputy chair Tien Kieu, talks about the inquiry’s terms of reference. These include:

  • Factors influencing Victoria’s growing remand and prison populations
  • Ways to reduce rates of repeat offending – known as recidivism
  • How to ensure judges and magistrates have appropriate knowledge and expertise when sentencing and dealing with offenders, including an understanding of recidivism and the causes of crime; and
  • Appointment processes for judges in other jurisdictions, especially reviewing skill-sets required for judges and magistrates overseeing specialist courts.

The inquiry provides a clear opportunity for people throughout the state and especially in rural and regional communities to influence change. Voices that have long been lost in what can be daunting, complex system can now be heard. The committee wants to hear them. It also wants to host more hearings in regional communities.

So I really encourage people who’ve had both difficult and positive experiences in the criminal justice system to make a submission. This video sets out how the inquiry works, what it’s examining, and how you can participate.

Find out how to make a submission. Or if you need advice about the process you can call the committee staff on 03 8682 2869. My statement about the inquiry also provides more details.

Please have your say.

Delay limits Echuca housing development

Constituency question

June 24, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:57): My constituency question is to the Minister for Planning, and it relates to Campaspe shire’s urgent need for the government to finalise the council’s planning scheme amendment C117 to unlock residential land in Echuca West as part of the Echuca West precinct structure plan.

Housing shortages are a significant issue, and the Campaspe Shire has worked proactively with the Victorian Planning Authority to prepare this amendment, which will enable development of 5000 new properties and provide residential land for 14,000 residents.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has taken six months to respond to the draft amendment with yet another new requirement for information.

Will the minister call in and expedite this planning scheme amendment to help Echuca meet its housing demands?

Prison staff safety should be a priority

Question without notice

June 24, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:32): My question is to the Minister for Workplace Safety, Ms Stitt.

I do note the government’s announcement last week of a future review into safety and culture inside Victorian prisons. However, my question relates much more immediately to the latest wave of violent attacks on staff at the Malmsbury and Parkville youth justice centres.

I understand there have been at least half a dozen very serious assaults on staff since the beginning of May, including with various improvised weapons in a number of those cases.

Minister, drawing on your comments here on 10 June—that violence and aggression in the workplace is never okay—can you outline what actions you and/or WorkSafe have taken in response to these incidents?

Ms STITT (Western Metropolitan—Minister for Workplace Safety, Minister for Early Childhood) (12:33): I thank Ms Maxwell for her question and her interest in these really important matters.

While some of the matters you raise are not strictly within my ministerial responsibilities, I do acknowledge the challenging work that staff in our justice system perform. They play a really important role and, like all other workers, they are entitled to a safe workplace.

The Andrews Labor government and WorkSafe are committed to preventing and responding to occupational violence, as I have said a number of times in the chamber, including in our corrections and youth justice centres, and I am advised that WorkSafe’s actions include workplace inspections to ensure compliance with OH&S duties and working with employers to improve safe systems at work.

Specifically, WorkSafe has a corrections and youth justice task force, which is a dedicated team of technical inspectors within WorkSafe who are focusing on reducing incidents in corrections and youth justice facilities. WorkSafe inspectors do continue to respond to health and safety concerns, including both mental health and physical injuries and concerns that are raised through the corrections and youth justice facilities.

Since May 2021 I am advised that the task force has in response to these incidents undertaken multiple inquiries, and they have related to occupational violence as well as some fatigue issues within the youth justice precincts. I am advised that WorkSafe have been working closely with the health and safety representatives in those facilities and the Department of Justice and Community Safety to identify and address any occupational health and safety risks and to work really hard to mitigate those risks.

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:36): Thank you, Minister. Just on that group that are actually working in the justice sector around those WorkSafe practices, how long has that advisory group been going for, and when was it first established?

Ms STITT (Western Metropolitan—Minister for Workplace Safety, Minister for Early Childhood) (12:36): Thank you for your supplementary question, Ms Maxwell. I will get those details for you; I do not have the exact dates to hand today. My understanding is that there has been that task force in place for quite some time preceding these particular issues that you are raising today, but I am happy to take that on notice and provide you with some more details about the time frame and the activities of that task force.

Kiewa CFA seeks ‘first-responder’ pilot

Kiewa CFA wants to pilot first-aid responses to serious incidents, and I’ve asked the government to consider this proposal.

Sex offenders near schools must be monitored

I’m outraged that convicted sex offenders can work on school grounds. How can this be allowed and how are offenders monitored?

Hit-and-run laws need hard fix

Police should have the power to suspend driver licences immediately someone’s charged for hit-and-run and dangerous traffic offences

Protecting sentencing and bail reforms

I’ve sought the Attorney-General’s guarantee that bail reform will not relax community safety laws

Event sector suffers devastating losses

Many people working in COVID-cancelled events are ineligible for government support and future planning is at risk from insurance costs

Budget initiatives welcome, but lockdown re-think vital

June 10, 2021

In making a speech about (Victoria’s) Appropriations Bills, it would naturally be remiss of me not to observe that the state’s economic position has already deteriorated from the time of Budget day on 20 May. 

Yet another COVID lockdown is again significantly harming the State’s economy, businesses and workers – and no amount of compensation packages or programs can or do ever go close to repairing the full extent of this damage. 

I also want to thank the Treasurer and his staff for their regular engagement with Mr (Stuart) Grimley MP and me, and our staff, on this year’s Budget.

Those conversations were very open, very constructive and very much appreciated.  They also allowed us to identify a number of priorities on behalf of our constituents and other key stakeholders that we believed needed new or extra funding in the Budget. 

To that end, we are very grateful that a number of those priorities were taken up by the Treasurer, and I will talk about some of those in more detail shortly. 

Obviously, we do feel some nervousness when we see the introduction of the kind of new taxes and/or big increases in taxes that are part of this Budget. 

I am certainly already receiving considerable and very frustrated feedback about the various new or increased property based taxes – and the huge new mental health levy. 

I would implore the government to revisit some of the changes, including by having more detailed conversations with some of the many people seriously impacted by them.  Among those people, I obviously include the many industry associations (especially in the property sector) whose members are clearly extremely adversely affected.  

Within this year’s Budget, Mr Grimley and I would also have liked to have seen greater attention paid to infrastructure projects particularly in rural and regional Victoria. 

It is another serious, missed opportunity that the necessary funding has not been devoted to reviving the critical Murray Basin Rail Project and seeing it through to completion.  I have talked about that project many times inside and outside of this Parliament.  Its completion is vitally important to economic and social development for many communities not just in Northern Victoria but also well beyond. 

To its credit, the federal government clearly sees and understands the value of this project – but the state government is not exhibiting the same approach.  That continues to be so disappointing and frustrating, and I honestly do not understand the rationale for this.  Nor do a huge and growing number of people in my electorate.  

I had also kept my fingers crossed that an interrelated project (the Sunraysia Mallee Port Link; formerly the Ouyen Intermodal) might also have received at least some of the relatively small amount of funding that it still currently needs.  This is a great concept and project, with a clear capacity to significantly improve the transportation of many agricultural products and dramatically reduce Victorian carbon emissions in the process.   

On another front, I hope the government will also soon be able to provide more clarity about how a number of the items that do feature in the Budget will be funded.  In saying this, I refer especially to how, and by how much and when, my constituents in Northern Victoria might benefit from the extra $759 million allocated to ambulance services across the State. 

I also would like to note the Victorian Auditor General’s Office ‘Measuring and Reporting on Service Delivery’ report that was released shortly after the Budget.  It makes many salient points about the longstanding need for significant improvement in the performance reporting elements in Victoria’s Budget papers.  I understand that the Assistant Treasurer may currently be looking into these matters and VAGO’s recommendations, and so I hope he acts upon them as a priority.

However, and notwithstanding each of those various issues to which I have just referred, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party greatly welcomes and is really pleased by many of the elements of this Budget.  Indeed, we take considerable pride in the fact that a number of the items for which we advocated have been funded. 

In respect of my electorate of Northern Victoria, I particularly thank the Treasurer for hearing and acting upon my pleas to commit money to two really important projects in Benalla. 

The first of these was the urgent need for upgrades to the dilapidated and decrepit Benalla Police Station.  In Victoria Police’s own words, that station has been “bordering on inoperable” for many years now, and its current state has to be seen to be believed.  I understand that the $28.9 million of works now approved by the Treasurer should be completed in 2024 – and that day can not come soon enough. 

I’m equally delighted that Benalla’s Tomorrow Today Foundation has received a $1 million commitment to continue its phenomenal philanthropic work across a range of areas.  Its PEEP initiative, in particular, continues to secure remarkable outcomes in early childhood education and development. 

In both cases in Benalla, these are funding commitments for which I have personally been advocating to the government for a while now – including in Parliament from back in 2019 in each case.

I won’t delve into detail about each of them now, but there are a number of other forms of new funding across Northern Victoria by which I am heartened and of which I am appreciative.

More broadly, I thank the Government for agreeing to extend the Adolescent Violence Program into a statewide model.  That was a request that I made of the Treasurer, especially through an adjournment speech on 30 October 2020, and I am delighted that it has now been delivered. 

I want to also sincerely thank Minister (Gabrielle) Williams, as the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, for our many one-on-one discussions on this issue and this program, and I commend her for all her hard work in advocating for and securing this Budget commitment, too. 

More widely, I am also delighted by the government’s notably increased emphasis on the importance of ‘early intervention’ across various programs and portfolios.  As anyone who follows me would know, the need for effective early intervention is a constant theme in my work – and it is critical to Victoria’s future in many different respects.   

I am obviously also gratified by the government’s decision to place the goal of overhauling Victoria’s mental health system at the centre of the Budget.  The new levy is clearly controversial and I would have preferred for the funding to have been found another way.  I am also very frustrated when I think about how much damage the COVID lockdowns are continuing to inflict on Victorians’ mental and physical wellbeing.

However, it is really important that the state revamp many of the current aspects of our current mental health arrangements – and, in the wake of the findings of the Royal Commission, I thank both the government and opposition for so strongly committing to fully funding this objective. 

In Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, we have advocated many times for drastic improvements in Victoria’s mental health structure.  Not least that is because Mr Grimley and I both represent rural and regional electorates, where mental health services are often in need of the most remediation.    

We are therefore particularly appreciative of the Budget funding that is being directed to new hubs and centres in our electorates. 

Among all of the Royal Commission recommendations that will now be taken up, we are also especially heartened by the finding that workforce incentives should be made available in order to try to recruit more mental health specialists to rural and regional Victoria.  That is something for which we have both been campaigning for a long time now, including through speeches here in the Council dating back to 2019. 

Above all, the one aspect of the announcements of 20 May by which we are most pleased is what we believe to be the unprecedented funding in a Victorian Budget to measures that directly support victims of crime. 

Helping and achieving greater recognition and fairness for crime victims is at the heart of the work Mr Grimley and I undertake in this Parliament, and to see such support reflected in the Budget is very gratifying. 

Among those measures, the one that gives us the most heart is the establishment of Victoria’s first-ever Victims’ Legal Service. 

Only a comparatively modest amount of money is going to this service initially.  As I understand it, the $7.3 million earmarked for it at this stage will only fund a relatively small amount of community lawyers, VOCAT assistance, and the pursuit of restitution and compensation orders.       

However, the mere fact that such a service is being established is a watershed moment in the history of legal assistance to victims of crime in Victoria and its significance should not be underestimated. 

I obviously also trust that this year’s Budget commitment will be the first of many investments in this scheme.

To come back to where I started this speech, I want to again express my disappointment that, since the Budget was delivered, Victorians have now been subjected to yet another COVID lockdown.  This is again inflicting enormous financial pain and damage on many individuals, many organisations and many businesses.  In short, it is causing further damage to lives and livelihoods, as well as to the State’s overall Budget position, and it is baffling and heartbreaking to have to go through all of this again. 

After more than 15 months, it is absolutely not good enough that such extraordinary harm is continuing to be done to our State – let alone in a form so disproportionate to the risk.  

For the tourism, hospitality, fitness, events and other retail industries, in particular, its impacts are again utterly catastrophic. 

As I have said so many times, a different approach simply has to be considered and implemented to ensure the entire state is not locked down when we have a small number of cases identified.   Inflicting this pain on an entire state when there are so few cases is ruthless and unreasonable.

Crime victims deserve compassionate, rapid support

BRAVE VOICES: With Ashleigh Cooper (left), Noelle Dickson and Di McDonald who joined me in my call for a serious overhaul of Victoria’s victims of crime assistance.

Parliament House, Melbourne – May 26, 2021

Motion

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) – May 26, 2021: (10:19)

I move:

That this house notes:

(1) the extensive and long-lasting physical, psychological and financial impacts frequently experienced by victims of crime;

(2) the importance of a comprehensive, well-structured and easily accessible system of state assistance for victims of crime that encompasses forms of support and care, including counselling, that are particularly responsive to victims’ individual needs and priorities;

(3) the urgent need to substantially revamp assistance to victims of crime in Victoria which has been identified on many occasions, including in the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 report on the review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, and as part of other formal government review processes dating back to 2009;

(4) the imperative for new, simplified victims of crime award categories in the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 that better define who should receive assistance and in what forms;

(5) the complementary need for enhanced, specialised child-focused services that will lead to better healing and recovery for children and young people who are victims of crime; and

(6) calls on the government to expedite its response to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s review, especially in relation to the implementation of the critically important recommendations under chapter 13 of the review on restructured forms of assistance.

I should also clarify at the outset that I am using the term ‘victims of crime’ in this motion and speech as a reference to all victims and victim-survivors of crime collectively.

As everyone here knows, it is a very regular practice of mine in this Parliament to raise issues relating to victims of crime. There are countless such issues, and this motion focuses on a very specific subset of those. However, they are as important as almost any group of matters pertaining to how the Victorian government should treat people materially affected by crime.

The motion is largely in recognition of the extensive and long-lasting impacts victims frequently experience and it acknowledges that there must be a well-coordinated and easily accessible state-funded system of assistance in Victoria for victims of crime.

The motion also recognises that those victims’ rights and needs have for far too long been disregarded, discredited and dismissed and that they are often alienated by processes, services and programs that were supposedly intended to help them.

The motion then states that there needs to be an urgent overhaul of the current model of assistance, calling on the government to use the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 Review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 as the main blueprint for change. Government MLCs might well point today to some announcements in last week’s budget that confirmed they are working on the VLRC review’s recommendations. However, I suspect they might also say they are still not ready to implement all of them until at least next year or beyond. If that does turn out to be the case, then I am suggesting that they should in the interim at least act immediately upon the crucial recommendations of chapter 13 regarding the establishment of new and reconceived forms of financial assistance.

As important as it is, the base of evidence for this motion is not purely that VLRC review, though, nor even last year’s RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice report on strengthening victim support services. Instead it is predicated on a diversity of evidence, including reviews and other documents from at least 2009. Back then the Department of Justice’s Reviewing Victims of Crime Compensation discussion paper was already raising many questions about the merits of the state-funded assistance program, which still persists to this day. In turn, today’s motion is also shaped heavily by the personal accounts of many victims themselves.

On that note I would like to thank and pay tribute to every victim of crime here with us in the gallery today and to express my continued admiration for and awe at your capacity to continue to live your lives with such courage and dignity even after everything you have endured. It is truly humbling, and it means so much to me that you have come here today to support this motion. I also thank the many victims of crime who could not attend in person but are watching and listening today. As part of that I salute those young victims of crime who are following the debate, because to me their interest in these matters is symbolic of the increasing feedback that my colleague Mr Grimley and I are receiving about the general inadequacy of support for children and young people directly affected by serious and violent crimes.

I would also like to quote our Premier, Daniel Andrews, who tweeted on February 18, 2020, and I quote:

It’s easy to say you’re against child sexual abuse. It’s another thing to actually demonstrate that. Victims should always be supported—no matter what. Anything less simply isn’t enough.

Dan Andrews @DanielAndrewsMP

I have pinned this to the wall of my office to remind me of our Premier’s commitment to victims of crime.

Accordingly, in part (5), I have sought to reflect one of the current policy priorities of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and its CEO, Deb Tsorbaris. That organisation and indeed many other people undertake vital work in assisting young people to recover after witnessing and/or directly experiencing a crime, but additional specialist services are also still badly needed.

This is both in the crime’s immediate aftermath and also later in life, especially where conditions such as PTSD and psychosocial impacts continue to exert sustained adverse effects on these victims in a multitude of forms.

Of course it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that globally there has been a growing recognition during recent decades of the rights and interests of victims of crime. We just need their needs to be prioritised. Many important developments have certainly occurred here in Victoria, including the introduction of the victims charter in 2006, the creation of the victims of crime commissioner role in 2014 and indeed last week’s response to the call of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and other stakeholders for the first-ever dedicated victims legal service.

However, the world over there has unfortunately also remained a wide gulf between lofty rhetoric about victims’ rights on the one hand and its actual translation into meaningful outcomes on the other.

Here in Victoria the most disheartening thing of all has been the continual evidence of a criminal justice system affording more weight to the interests of those who break the state’s laws than those who abide by them. This has unfortunately been compounded by the retention, even amidst repeated complaints and criticisms, of a structure of assistance that most crime victims say devalues and often re-traumatises them. Partly this is because Victoria is one of only two Australian jurisdictions that still uses a judicial model and a victims of crime assistance tribunal in this field.

Over time this system has become so bewildering and created such instant and high barriers to surmount that victims typically need to hire lawyers, including at their own substantial expense, to help them understand and navigate many of its complexities and difficulties. Some victims have even had to launch their own lawsuits against offenders instead of relying on this model.

Overall the system is far too cumbersome. Its response times and processes are laborious, with waiting periods of Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal claim approvals historically averaging around nine months and some even lasting four years. It is also underpinned by some strange rules that leave it poorly geared to account for victims’ level of pain and suffering, their current circumstances or their future requirements. There are numerous other problems as well and to illustrate just a fraction of them it may be helpful for members if I relate a selection of experiences that some victims have allowed me to share with you.

Among those is the case of Janelle Saunders, the mother of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg, who was raped and murdered in Wangaratta in 2015 by a recidivist violent criminal. Janelle was treated atrociously by the victims assistance system in so many ways. This included being left unaware that other people who had not even seen Zoe since she was a baby were approved for compensation as so-called secondary or related victims.

The funds available to Janelle as the primary victim were accordingly reduced and she therefore ultimately lost access to the counselling sessions that she continues to require to this day. Notwithstanding her ongoing deep trauma, news of the termination of the counselling was then conveyed to her through the mail and in the space of only four words in the most soulless, bureaucratic and miserable letter I have ever seen. The letter delivered the words that funds were exhausted. I would suggest that an official review of Janelle’s case on its own should be enough to see the current system terminated.

Another case is Kerryn Robertson, the mother of Rekiah O’Donnell, who was shot and killed by her partner in Melbourne in 2013. Kerryn and her family encountered serious difficulties in relation to financial support too, as they were told that a lump sum of money that had been set aside for sessions with a counsellor—one that had to be selected from a very limited list of approved counsellors, I might add—could not be used for any other purposes. Both Kerryn and Rekiah’s sister Indiana, who was only 15 at the time, only used a few of those sessions.

They later felt they needed assistance with many other priorities instead, including with education, as their learning and work were both set back after Rekiah’s death. However, that help was not available. Indiana’s money was also embargoed until she was 18, rather than being accessible for the urgent, immediate support she needed, which should have catered more specifically to the need of a teenager. They are both still experiencing many repercussions from all of that.

Here today in the gallery is Noelle Dickson, the mother of Sarah Cafferkey, who was murdered in Bacchus Marsh in 2012 by a violent criminal, inexplicably on parole. Noelle has actually interacted with the victim assistance system more than once, but her experience has never been a pleasant one. She felt she was confronted by a system that was constantly and quite extraordinarily requiring her to actually prove she was a victim. She was asked to recount her experiences multiple times to multiple doctors, counsellors and others. This was even after all the relevant facts had been clearly established, including in court, and even though like almost every victim of crime she already had more than enough to process as it was, without all of the extra stress and trauma of having to recite her story over and over again.

I thank you, Janelle, Noelle, Kerryn and Indiana, for consenting to me sharing just some of the many elements of your very difficult experiences with the existing system. I also thank the many other victims who have allowed me to potentially tell their stories too. If only there had been more time available to me today. I also hope that I can say on behalf of all of you that neither you nor I believe that the solutions here are especially difficult to achieve and implement.

In fact, and as the wording of the motion highlights, they are actually substantively identified in the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s (VLRC) review chapter 13 findings. Among other proposals, these recommend the replacement of the existing act’s award categories with six more broadly based streams of support. Collectively these are aimed at delivering more transparent, more predictable, less confusing and fairer assistance. They are also far more closely based on victims’ individual priorities rather than being constrained by arbitrary, predefined limits, caps and other restrictions. As part of this they lift the current maximum time limits for claims. These limits are simply not aligned with the reality that every victim of crime responds and heals in their own unique way and at their own individual pace. Many are unable to move forward for a very long period, and it is ill informed to presume they will always do otherwise.

The VLRC’s proposed changes also reflect the widespread dissatisfaction with the existing primary, secondary and related award categories in particular and the complexities around who can apply for and receive assistance as well as how, when and why. They also honour the crucial importance in many cases of more immediate access to support. Crucially in cases like Janelle’s they will also permit access to counselling services on a long-term basis, where this is appropriate to recovery needs, irrespective of whether any limits that might apply to other forms of assistance have already been exhausted. Equally, though, they do not mandate compulsory attendance at counselling, especially where this is not in someone’s best interest, as was true for Kerryn, Indiana and Noelle.

In the event funding should be a sticking point for any of these changes, then the government would do well to instigate a dedicated review into the potential production of a victim levy, as the VLRC separately recommends in chapter 18. Other states and territories far more adequately resource victim support in this way, compelling offenders themselves to fund a greater share of victim assistance. Naturally I acknowledge that it is important to review laws and policies carefully and not rush the results. In the case of victims of crime assistance, though, I would say that asking people to wait at least 12 years for the serious reforms that are required is stretching that sentiment beyond all acceptable limits.

In such circumstances I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that these reforms now be introduced immediately. Furthermore, the road map for change already exists. The government should by now know exactly what it needs to do. Sadly, none of us has the power to end all crimes or violence. However, if these reforms are implemented, they will obviously improve one vital aspect of how we respond to these acts and enhance the wellbeing of past and future crime victims in the process.

It is often said that a society—and a Parliament—is best judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable, and there are very few people who experience more vulnerability or feel more demoralised or broken than those directly impacted by serious crime. No words from me can adequately lay bare their pain and trauma nor the heavy burdens they carry—generally for the rest of their lives.

However, what I can say with confidence is that there is an obligation on every one of us in this Parliament not to forget or overlook them and certainly not to exacerbate their suffering. We must all recognise that the very least we can do is to make available forms of support that are compassionate, sensitively delivered and genuinely responsive to their needs. Frankly, those aims should be absolutely intrinsic to what this Parliament is about. It is for each of these reasons and many more that I thank everyone for listening and that I commend this motion to the house.

Other Members’ responses

Summing up

[In this latest budget, the government has] committed money, and I am extremely grateful for that, but we need to do more. We need to put victims of crime as the number one priority.

Tania Maxwell MP, Legislative Council: May 26, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (11:45): In summing up my motion, I would like to sincerely thank Ashleigh, Scott, Di, Noelle, my staff and my intern Vera for being here today and for supporting this motion. I would like to thank and acknowledge the very emotional contributions by Mr Ondarchie and Mr Limbrick today. Your voices have certainly been heard, and I thank you for standing and giving your heartfelt contributions. I would like to thank everyone who has spoken today. I would like to reiterate many of the words that Mr O’Donohue brought to the chamber, and I thank him for those words in support of my motion.

This motion is something that I have wanted to bring to the house since the day I was elected. Even before I was selected, when I became a member of the victims reference group with Mr O’Donohue and when I co-founded of the Enough is Enough foundation, victims were always at the core of the work that I wanted to do and achieve. Little did I know then that I would actually have the honour and the privilege to be elected to Parliament and bring my work to represent victims of crime in this house.

I agree with Mr O’Donohue that we certainly need a cultural change. We need to be putting victims at the forefront of the work that we are doing to support them. We need to stop with the priorities for offenders over victims. We have raised the impact statements today. How does an offender get to have a say and redact information in a victim’s impact statement? That is absolutely insulting. It is abominable. It just should never be happening.

We have got to look at ways that we can prevent crime, and I have stood here in this place so many times and talked about early intervention and primary prevention. A way we can support victims is to prevent these crimes from happening. We know that the government has a strong focus on mental health at the moment, and I certainly hope that our victims of crime and survivors will be considered as a priority in becoming supported through accessing mental health.

Dr Kieu stated something in his speech, about the $60,000 for victims of crime, with the $10,000 of special assistance. What I want to bring to the attention of this house is that I have seen offenders in prison, incarcerated, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. That makes me furious, when we have victims of crime sitting up there who have to fight and be retraumatised to get a single cent. It is wrong—and I am sorry for yelling, but I am so passionate about this. It is an absolute disgrace. Trauma does not leave these victims when the sentencing is handed down. They experience it for the rest of their lives, and they need to be supported. We need to invest in that early intervention.

When everybody goes to bed at night I hope the last words that go through your minds are: ‘Victims of crime—we need to support them’.

I acknowledge the government in this latest budget is doing that. You have committed money, and I am extremely grateful for that, but we need to do more. We need to put victims of crime as the number one priority.

Motion agreed to.