The Territory Labor Government is putting victims of crime first and has released its strengthened Charter of Victims Rights for public comment.
This Charter of Victims Rights establishes principles that victims are to be treated fairly and as a priority in the justice system to help victims improve their ability to enforce their rights.
The key directive of the Charter is that that every reasonable resource will be used to support the safety and welfare of victims, their families and their property, and ensures victims have a stronger voice in our judicial system with better protections and access to vital services.
Access to simple and quick services in a coordinated and respectful manner is critical to victims of crime and their families while integrating participatory rights acknowledges the interests of victims of crime and their integral role in the criminal justice system.
A key number of improvements to better support victims include:
o A stronger focus on the particular needs of victims, by including a victims location and literacy level as particular needs for government agencies to consider when engaging with victims.
o A specific provision for victims to have their rights explained to them in a manner and language they understand.
o The right to be told about the release or escape from custody of the accused, including before trial and when the accused is returned to custody.
o The right of a victim to be told of their entitlement to attend any trial or hearing.
o More detail about the types of information and services that can be provided to individuals listed on the Victims Register.
o A clearer provision about the availability of financial assistance for victims of violent crimes, and that victims are entitled to have such claims determined in a timely way.
o An updated appendix with contacts and information about what to do about breaches of the Charter.
To access the revised Charter and for information on how to participate in the public consultation, visit www.justice.nt.gov.au/victimsrights
Public consultation opens on 18 October and closes on 6 December.
Comments from Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Natasha Fyles
The Territory Labor Government is putting the rights of victims first, now and always.
The new Charter of Victims Rights identifies victims rights within the NT justice system and conveys to Government agencies the manner in which they should engage with victims and provide services.
The Key principals of the revised Victims charter are:
Victims rights come first.
The safety and welfare of victims, their families and their property is our number one concern.
That every reasonable resource will be used to support victims.
Access to services will be simple, quick, coordinated and respectful.
Victims have a right to be heard by the Courts.
The revised draft Charter uses easy to understand language and outlines in the preamble that the process for victims must be quick, fair, affordable and easy to access.
Comments from Acting CEO of Victims of Crime NT, Jacinta Stanford:
This revised charter responds to the feedback Victims of Crimes NT received as part of our initial consultations in 2017.
The changes make the document more easily understood and reinforce the rights of victims to be as involved and informed in our justice system as they wish to be.
Specifically, the rights to be informed about the progress of investigations and any downgrading of charges provides victims with agency and recognizes that having been thrust into a bad situation they can expect to be treated with dignity and have their needs for information met.
This Charter puts the needs of victims on the radars of everyone who works in the justice system. Justice cannot be served without the addressing the needs of the victim and this charter allows victims to seek redress, receive information and use their voice if they wish to do so.