Victim Participation in the Justice System
The Victims of Crime Commissioner Fiona McCormack is pleased to announce her first systemic inquiry which will focus on victim participation in the justice system.
Why has this systemic inquiry been announced?
Too often victims are not at the centre of decisions and processes—victims’ rights, interests, feelings, and wishes are seen as an afterthought, or worse, not recognised, seen, or heard at all.
Since 2018, victims in Victoria have been recognised under the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Vic) (Victims’ Charter) as ‘participants’ in criminal proceedings. But such reforms do not always translate into tangible improvements in victims’ experience of the justice process.
Little is known about how victims are experiencing these new participatory entitlements in Victoria and whether victims’ status as a participant in the justice process has improved with these entitlements.
As part of this inquiry, the Commissioner will look at whether victims feel they have been able to participate in the justice system, and whether new laws or policies might be needed to help victims participate in keeping with their entitlements under the Victims’ Charter.
Background to the Inquiry
The 2016 report of the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process found that there is a significant disparity between the victim’s role as expressed in legislation and the victim’s experience in practice.
The VLRC recommended that the role of the victim as a participant in criminal proceedings be legislatively and ‘operationally recognised’.
Since 2018, the Victims’ Charter has recognised victims as a participant, but not a party, in proceedings for criminal offences. Specifically, the Victims’ Charter was amended in 2018 to create:
- a new object of the Victims’ Charter to recognise that a victim of crime has an inherent interest in the response by the criminal justice system to that crime, giving rise to the rights and entitlements set out in the Charter, and to acknowledge the victim's role as a participant, but not a party, in proceedings for criminal offences;
- a requirement for investigatory, prosecuting and victims’ services agencies to respect the rights and entitlements of victims as participants in proceedings for criminal offences.
Further information about this inquiry, and how people can get involved, will be available soon. We encourage victims of crime, and others with an interest in this Inquiry, to register their interest by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quotes attributable to Fiona McCormack, Victims of Crime Commissioner:
“Ensuring victims are heard and respected by the justice system is a key part of my role.
This Inquiry will provide victims with a forum to tell their stories and experiences of the justice system.
We will only improve the justice system if the voices of victims are heard.”