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Policy position

Enhancing victim participation in diversion programs

Victims of crime should have more rights when an accused is offered a diversion program

While there can be merits to diverting people from the criminal justice system, the Victims of Crime Commissioner (VOCC) has heard that when diversion has occurred, this has removed their opportunity to participate in the justice process and tell the court about the impact of the crime. 

All victims, whether or not the accused is subject to a diversion process, should be respected as participants in line with the Victims’ Charter, and be entitled to information and support under the Victims’ Charter. 

The VOCC considers that both the diversion stream in the Children’s Court and the Criminal Justice Diversion Program in the Magistrates’ Court should be strengthened to provide victims with greater participatory rights. 

The VOCC considers that legislation governing the diversion streams in both courts should provide for: 

  • consideration of the seriousness of an offence and the impact on the victim in determining whether to grant an adjournment for diversion 
  • requiring the prosecution to seek victim’s views including: 
  • whether the victim agrees with the course of action 
  • the amount of compensation sought for damage to property 
  • how the crime has affected the victim. 

The court should check whether the prosecution has engaged with the victim and sought their views, to ensure that the prosecution enables victims to participate. 

Victoria Police should also update its policies, practices and training to create a clear and transparent best-practice model for consulting with victims in relation to diversion, whether diversion occurs in the Children’s or the Magistrates’ Courts.  

The Victims’ Charter should be amended to reflect victims’ enhanced rights in relation to diversion. 

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