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Policy position

Legal advice and support to help victims recover from crime

Victims of crime should have access to comprehensive state-funded legal advice and assistance so they can recover from crime and participate in the justice process

Since 2016, seven Victorian reports and inquiries have recommended enhanced access to state-funded legal advice and assistance for victims of crime.  

Victims of crime have repeatedly told the Victims of Crime Commissioner that access to independent, specialised and trauma-informed legal advice and assistance is one of the single most important issues for them.  

In March 2023, the Victorian Government established a Victims Legal Service with a limited service offering.  

While the establishment of the Victims Legal Service is a welcome and crucial first step in Victoria, a more comprehensive Victims Legal Service, which expands upon the current limited service, is required to assist victims with the full range of complex legal issues that arise as a result of victimisation including: 

  • Victims’ Charter rights and entitlements 
  • reporting a crime, understanding charges, withdrawing or amending witness statements 
  • advocating for bail conditions that prioritise victim safety 
  • giving evidence and alternative arrangements 
  • suppression orders and the media 
  • plea negotiations 
  • sentence indications 
  • diversion 
  • Victim Impact Statements 
  • parole and other post-sentencing decisions  
  • restorative justice.

The VOCC advocates for the Victorian Government to expand the Victims Legal Service to provide all victims with specialist, state-funded legal assistance in relation to the comprehensive range of legal issues that victims face.  

Additionally, the VOCC advocates for a specialised and targeted approach to legal representation for sexual offence victims. The VOCC recommends that victims of sexual offences have standing to appear and be entitled to state-funded legal representation at specific stages of proceedings.  

The VOCC recommends that the Victorian Government establish a sexual offences legal representation scheme that provides independent legal representation in relation to justice processes occurring in the absence of a jury, including in relation to confidential communications, sexual history evidence and subpoenas for information that contains private information about the victim.  

A victims’ legal representative would have a protective role, asserting the victims’ entitlements and would not act as a prosecutor, or alter the prosecutor’s role. 

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