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NSW Criminal Law Watch: Confusing changes to compensation rights for victims of crime

Criminal Law Domestic Violence

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If you're a victim of crime, especially that of abuse, there are few things that will provide relief when you are in a state of vulnerability. One of those things is a feeling that justice ' in whatever form that comes in ' is served. For some, justice is a fair and just compensation payout. At times, though, that payout doesn't match up to what is fair for the victim deserves, requiring an appeal against the court's decision. If you feel like you fall under that category, you should probably read further.

In June, the New South Wales government cut entitlements to victims' compensations and introduced a new system in the lead up to the royal commission into child sexual abuse. If you had made a claim under the old system, you were given up to three months to appeal any further decisions. While lodging a claim to appeal unfair compensation seems like a pain, in the year from 2011-12, 41% of 719 appeals lodged were successful. However, those whose claims had been decided on in the months leading up to the introduction of the new system in June had decided no longer to appeal as they risked getting even less under the new system.

In order to smooth the process, the government attempted to make the process easier for victims wanting to appeal by extending the 'due date� to lodge an appeal for a claim to September 3. This would allow those wanting to appeal another chance to be heard under the old system. Which sounds great, but unfortunately no one was informed of this until it was too late, according to Community Legal Centres NSW and the NSW Women's Alliance.

The director of Community Legal Centres NSW, Alastair McEwin, wrote in a letter to the Attorney-General Greg Smith that 'the lack of notice about this regulation is extraordinary.�

Shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch agreed.

'It's good the government recognized the unfairness of appellants of treating them retrospectively. It's unfathomable that they didn't tell anyone. Having botched this regulation, the government should have another go,� Mr Lynch said.

Indeed ' what was the point of extending the 'due date� if no one was going to be informed about it?

Having not known about the extended appeal deadline, 16 people had lodged then withdrawn their appeals before June. However, a spokeswoman for the Attorney-General has announced that those people would receive letters giving them the opportunity to re-open their appeal.

She also said the 192 claims that were pending in August would still be considered under the old law.

If you feel as though you may be eligible to appeal a claim, the spokeswoman for the Attorney-General urges you to contact the new Commissioner of Victims Rights or call the Victims Access Line and raise your concerns.


Victims Access Line: 1800 633 063

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