Legislation to create a Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime has been introduced in the Legislative Assembly, furthering the Territory’s commitment to human rights and cementing the ACT as a human rights leader, Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said today.
By setting out standards for how victims should be treated, the Charter provides victims with a clearer understanding of their rights in the criminal justice system. The Charter addresses:
- respectful engagement and protections in relation to a victim’s safety and privacy
- access to support, services and assistance
- information about general administration of justice processes, investigations, proceedings and decisions, and how victims can participate in proceedings. (i.e. how the justice system works).
The Charter has been developed with extensive engagement and input from justice agencies, victims advocates and the broader community. It’s key strength is the embedding of a charter of rights in legislation.
The Charter also provides a clear accountability framework that will better support victims who may not feel comfortable approaching an agency directly with concerns, or require support to do so.
The Charter is also designed to start a broader cultural change, with an aspirational goal to reduce complaints and improve relationships across the criminal justice system.
Justice agencies covered by the Charter include ACT Policing, Victim Support ACT and the Victims of Crime Commissioner, the ACT Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ACT Corrective Services, Youth Justice in the Community Services Directorate, the Restorative Justice Unit, the Sentence Administration Board and also ACT Courts and Tribunals when acting administratively.
The Charter will come into effect from 1 January 2021. $2.08 million has already been allocated to fund capacity in agencies to deliver on commitments in the Charter. The Victims of Crime Charter is a commitment of the 9th Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens.
Comments attributable to ACT Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury:
“Victims of crime deserve to be treated appropriately in the justice process, and should be provided with information and opportunities to participate that recognise their importance to the justice process.
“Providing victims with an understanding of their rights in the criminal justice process can help prevent victims from being retraumatised, in their experience with the criminal justice system.
“We’re also making sure that more victims feel they can raise complaints or concerns in a safe and supportive environment, including through the ACT Human Rights Commission conciliation process.
“Importantly, the Bill also respects the independence of the judiciary and the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
Comments attributable to ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner, Heidi Yates:
“The voice of victims is an essential part of the criminal justice system. Despite this, victims often feel unheard in justice processes.
“The Charter promises to secure practical improvements to the lives of victims by protecting their rights to recognition, information, privacy and respect, with a clear way to raise complaints. The Charter is a welcome addition to the ACT’s human rights framework.”