INDEPENDENT NEWS

Victims levy bill passes into law

Published: Wed 21 Oct 2009 05:54 PM
Hon Simon Power
Minister of Justice
Victims levy bill passes into law
A law that helps address the financial and emotional costs that fall on victims of crime was passed by Parliament today.
The Sentencing (Offender Levy) Act is part of the National-led Government's Action Plan on Violent Crime.
"Addressing the negative impact of crime on victims is a priority of this Government," Justice Minister Simon Power said.
"Victims of crime have been neglected for too long, and this Government is moving to put them at the centre of the justice system. This law will ensure that offenders contribute to addressing the harm they cause.
"The law imposes a $50 levy on all convicted offenders at the point of sentencing in court, which will be collected after reparation and before fines. This is in addition to any sentence or court order.
"It is estimated the levy will collect $13.6 million over the first four years, and this will be used to fund additional entitlements and services for victims of serious crime.
"Last Friday I was very pleased to announce eight new entitlements and services for victims of crime that will be funded by the levy. Implementation will be phased in over the next nine months."
The initiatives are:
• A funeral grant of $4,500 to families of homicide victims, on top of the $5,500 available through ACC
• A court attendance grant of $124 per person per day for up to five adult members of a homicide victim's family.
• An increase in the discretionary grant for families of homicide victims which are suffering financial difficulties, from $1,500 to $5,000.
• A homicide support service which will provide four paid homicide support co-ordinators to work with Victim Support.
• A court service for victims of sexual violence which give them access to a trained adviser who understands the dynamics of sexual violence cases and the needs of victims.
• A grant of $250 towards the expenses incurred as a result of sexual violence, such as replacing items of clothing collected for forensic evidence.
• Increases in travel, accommodation and childcare assistance for victims attending High Court trials, from $1,000 to $3,000, and Parole Board hearings, from $500 to $1,500.
• Information resources outlining the court process and support services.
"I'm confident these entitlements and services will make a real difference in the lives of victims of crime.
"I don’t pretend we can take away the pain of victims' loss or injury, but we can help smooth the path to resolution.
"I'm particularly pleased that every convicted offender will provide funding for these new services.
"It's important they contribute to addressing the harm their behaviour causes victims."
ENDS

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