Tania Maxwell welcomes budget’s victims’ legal service funding

Tania Maxwell MP has welcomed the $7.3 million Budget announcement to establish Victoria’s first-ever Victims’ Legal Service.

The Member for Northern Victoria said she and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party leader Stuart Grimley MP had long advocated for such a service to ensure victims could be represented in criminal proceedings.

“It’s a very proud day for Stuart and me,” Ms Maxwell said.

“We have heard frequently that crime victims not only fail to have their needs and interests reflected in court but encounter great difficulty accessing the lawyers and legal advice they need to begin understanding and navigating the criminal justice system.

“The establishment of this new service should make a crucial difference for those who have been largely voiceless.”

The VLS concept was developed by Mr Grimley with barrister Michelle Zammit, who has worked with – and represented – countless victim survivors throughout her professional career.

This proposal came about partly as a result of the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s 2016 Report into The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process.

Ms Maxwell has also welcomed the government’s recognition of early intervention, especially directed at alleviating homelessness and supporting mental health, to drive down costs in the state’s policing, court and corrections’ systems. It’s a call she made earlier in the week and reported in the Wangaratta Chronicle on May 19.

“As Treasurer Tim Pallas said in his Budget speech, it’s ‘a smarter approach’,” she said.

“Investing in these initiatives, including a start-up focus on rural and regional communities for the roll-out of the $200m School Mental Health Fund and money for mental health care and outreach in Wangaratta, Echuca and Swan Hill, will enable us to measure the benefits.”