A new independent body will be established to oversee a redress and restorative engagement scheme for victims of workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault at Victoria Police.
The Andrews Labor Government’s Police Redress Scheme will be overseen by the Department of Justice and Regulation and will be independent of Victoria Police. It is expected to be in place in the second half of next year.
Victoria Police, with support from the Labor Government, accepted all 20 recommendations from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Humans Right Commission 2015 Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour in Victoria Police.
These included the establishment of a redress and restorative engagement scheme. While the details of the scheme will be finalised next year, it will provide:
- Eligibility for financial redress for Victoria Police employees who have experienced sexual abuse or harassment of a criminal nature, or systemic sexual discrimination or harassment, in the workplace
- Broad eligibility for Victoria Police employees who have experienced a wide range of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination to receive counselling and support services, access to non-financial redress and the opportunity to participate in a restorative engagement process with Victoria Police.
Importantly, the threshold for redress will be based on whether a person’s account is plausible – rather than proven – which means individuals will not be required to produce extensive documentation or evidence to prove their account.
A dedicated reference group, including representatives from The Police Association and the Community and Public Sector Union, will now be established to advise on the design and operation of the scheme.
The Labor Government undertook extensive consultation with current and former employees of Victoria Police and their families – as well as victims groups – to help guide the development of the scheme and ensure meaningful redress for victims.
The new body will be independent of Victoria Police. It has initial funding of approximately $500,000 by the Labor Government to conduct a design and establishment process over the coming months.
As noted by Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“We are working to ensure victims of sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination within Victoria Police have meaningful opportunities for redress and restorative engagement.”
“While we cannot change the past, the creation of an independent body will provide appropriate support for victims, including opportunities for payments to those who have suffered serious or systematic abuse.”
“Any form of abuse or harassment is completely unacceptable. Police have drawn a line in the sand and taken strong steps to stamp out this type of abhorrent behaviour from the police force.”