Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Criminal Compensation......Just Criminal!

Indeed, this working for a living sucks doesn't it? Many of my clients and their families complain constantly about the time it takes from date of arrest ( the baddie) to the time the matter finally goes to trial. I do my best to sympathise with them, lord knows it infuriates us more (those that work within the system) than them most times. However one area that often gets over looked is criminal compensation and the time it takes for a claim to be processed. As many of you know, all my clients are children, many of their compensation claims are small amounts, mainly due to the actual crimes committed against them. However, there are kids that have been witness to murders, kids raped and assaulted that have had their lives up lifted by these crimes. These kids need counselling, many don't and can't attend school regularly, are not able to have contact with their families. Criminal compensation is there to help finanically, medical expenses, re housing, basically to assist the victims of crime financially, to get back on their feet and move on, physically. The time it takes to get these claims processed is just as long in many cases as it is to get the matter to trial.............just insane. Finally, word is getting back to the Atty General, and hopefully she'll take note and put the appropriate wheels in motion to speed things up.

Victims face 'obstruction'
Margaret Wenham and Steven Wardill
April 25, 2006
THE state's crime compensation scheme has become "obstructionist" and designed to delay rather than speed up payouts.
Lawyers in private practice yesterday made the allegations, joining their colleagues working for Legal Aid Queensland who have criticised lengthy delays in the Justice Department's processing of victims' criminal compensation claims.
Solicitors Alison Campbell, Mark O'Connor and Tony Bailey all described extensive hold ups in the processing of compensation claims leading to extra stress for crime victims.
Ms Campbell said her practice, which deals solely in the area of criminal compensation, had written to Attorney-General Linda Lavarch about the delays and was meeting with her tomorrow.
"There does seem to be an obstructionist attitude and there is constant questioning and requesting of material," Ms Campbell said.
She said while she believed Ms Lavarch was "on the front foot" with the issue having recently allocated more resources to the Justice Department's criminal injury compensation unit, the delays had become worse over a period of about three years.
"There have been cases where questions have been asked that seem to convey an attitude of 'let's hold things up'," she said.
"I'm hoping the Attorney-General will shed some light on it."
Ms Campbell said her company was handling around 300 claims, some dating back three years.
Around 90 per cent were cases where the Supreme or District Courts had made orders for compensation.
"I have a poor victim of an horrific rape," she said.
"She didn't want to make the (compensation) application, but she was advised by her psychologist to do so to really get closure on what had happened.
"But so far she's had no closure."
Millions of dollars in compensation is owing to victims of crime, some of whom have been waiting years for their applications to be processed.
Under the Criminal Offence Victims Act 1995, victims of crime can apply to the State Government for ex gratia payments of up to $75,000. The oldest claim dated back to 2000.
Ms Lavarch said staff in the unit worked to ensure applications were processed thoroughly.

So, this leads me to wonder, are other States in Oz and for that matter, other countries suffering from delayed payouts? How do victims of crime move on?

till next time, Michelle.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home