Victim Participation in the Justice System.
The Commissioner’ s first systemic inquiry is focusing on victim participation in the justice system.
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.
Why victim participation?
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 as ‘participants’ in criminal proceedings. But such reforms do not always translate into real 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.
Background to the inquiry
A 2016 report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process, found there is a significant gap 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 the Victorian Government introduced changes in 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.
How you can be involved in the inquiry
Consultation with victims on the systemic inquiry into victim participation in the justice system has now closed. Thank you to everyone who provided their feedback. If you would like to receive updates about the progress of this inquiry, or you would still like to talk to the Commissioner’s Office about your experience of the justice process, please email email@example.com.