Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Queensland to boost financial assistance for DV victims

Domestic and family violence victims will soon be able to access significantly greater financial assistance under proposed changes introduced to the Queensland Parliament today.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that changes to the Victims of Crime Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, will mean the category of support provided to domestic violence victims will be upgraded to better reflect the seriousness of the crimes.

“The impacts of crime go well beyond the any property loss or damage,” the Premier said.

“That trauma can live with an individual, their family and their community for life.

“We know that government needs to do more, and that victims need to be front and centre.

“Sometimes these families are escaping violent situations with just the clothes on their backs, so we must do whatever we can to make life a little bit easier.”

The changes means special assistance payments available to DFV victims will increase nine-fold from $1,000 (category D) to $9,000 (category B).

Victims of sexual violence will also receive increased payments, with financial assistance across all categories increasing.

The Bill also seeks to amend the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 to increase the maximum financial assistance for primary victims from $75,000 to $120,000.

It’s proposed the maximum financial assistance for other victims will increase, including parent secondary victims and related victims, which will increase to $75,000.

Other increases to payments under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 will include increases to special assistance payments:

  • Category A – currently $10,000 increased to $15,000
  • Category B – currently $3,500 increased to $9,000
  • Category C – currently $2,000 increased to $6,000
  • Category D – currently $1,000 increased to $3,000
  • Increase in funeral expenses from $8,000 to $15,000.
  • Increase in distress payments from $10,000 to $15,000

To assist and improve access to support for victims of crime and streamline decision-making, a new user-friendly online application process has also been activated.

The Government says the process is client-focused and responsive to a victim’s needs with easy-to-read, practical information to guide victims through the process, so they have confidence in completing the form correctly.

“Victims of crime, including domestic and family and sexual violence, experience significant trauma and these new measures are a positive step in the right direction in making sure they get the support they need,” said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath.

“We also know they need access to support services and financial assistance to help them recover from criminal acts and get their lives back on track, and the new online service will assist them in doing so.”

DV Connect chief executive officer, Beck O’Connor said the organisation welcomed the proposed changes as a positive step in recognising the seriousness and long-term impacts of domestic and family violence.

“You can start to rebuild your life on $9000. This proposal acknowledges the level of resourcing that is required for victim/survivors to begin to heal and recover,” she said.

“We are pleased that the Government is investing in systems that make these processes more streamlined. In taking on board feedback they have modernised and simplified priority access to real support.

“This change would be a compassionate and respectful decision and will go a long way to ensuring that victims of serious crime, which include domestic and family violence, will have an opportunity to heal and recover with dignity, as they should expect.”

The Government said it was also committed to ensuring greater representation of victims of crime on the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC).

The Bill proposes to expand the membership of the QSAC from 12 to 14 members, including the appointment of a member with lived experience as a victim of crime.

“The recommendation to expand the membership of QSAC, to centre the experiences of someone who has lived through serious violence and crime at the decision-making table, is the kind of bravery we need to see from our government and policy makers,” said Ms O’Connor.

“Victim/Survivors know what needs to change and are aware of what barriers they face,” she said.

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