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Additional support for victims of serious crime

A summary of eight new entitlements and services for victims of serious crime

Extension of sexual violence court attendance grant

Eligibility criteria has been extended for the sexual violence court attendance grant. Victims of sexual violence may not always be able to access an unpaid support person, for example a family member or friend, when they give evidence in court. A non-government organisation providing a support person to a victim in these circumstances can now claim up to $300 per day. All enquiries should be directed to Victim Support, who administers the grant.

Five new initiatives for victims of serious crime 

On 6 May 2011, the Minister of Justice, Hon Simon Power, announced five new initiatives for victims of serious crime.

These new initiatives build on the eight entitlements and services already paid for by the $50 offender levy.  The levy is being collected quicker than anticipated, allowing for the new initiatives to be funded.

All of the initiatives will commence on 1 July 2011 and will be administered by Victim Support.

Below is a summary of the new initiatives.

Additional support for families of victims killed as a result of a criminal act

1. Trauma counselling

Up to 30 hours of trauma counselling will be available to family members of a victim killed as a result of a criminal act (that is not homicide)(1).

2. A discretionary grant

A discretionary grant of up to $3,000 will be available for families of victims killed as a result of a criminal act (that is not homicide).

Additional support for victims of sexual violence

3. Court attendance grant

A court attendance grant of $100 per day for victims of sexual violence and their unpaid support person. A non-government organisation providing a support person to a victim when the victim gives evidence in court can claim up to $300 per day.

Additional support for victims of serious crime

4. Expanded travel assistance scheme

An expanded travel assistance scheme for victims of serious crime and their unpaid support person for Justice sector-related travel up to $1,000 not already covered by the scheme.

5. Victim Emergency Grant

A means-tested victim emergency grant for economically disadvantaged victims of serious crime of up to $2,000.

Note

1. Families of homicide victims are able to access a range of support including a funeral grant and a court attendance grant.  Further information on these initiatives is provided below.

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Existing initiatives for victims of serious crime

From November 2009 to July 2010, eight entitlements and services were rolled out that provide additional support to victims of serious crime.  These initiatives are funded from revenue generated from the offender levy and funding from the disestablished Sentencing Council.  Below is a summary of the initiatives.

Additional support for families of homicide victims

Four of the initiatives will provide additional support to families of homicide victims.

Funeral grant top-up

The first initiative provides an additional amount of up to $4,458.77 to families of homicide victims to help pay for costs associated with their family member's funeral. This additional amount is on top of the $5,541.23 that these families can currently claim from ACC for funeral costs.  This initiative began in November 2009 and is administered by ACC on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

Assistance to attend High Court

The second initiative provides financial assistance to support families of homicide victims to attend High Court proceedings. The new grant supports up to five adult family members of a homicide victim attending High Court proceedings involving the alleged offender at a rate of $124 per day, per person.  This initiative began in January 2010 and is administered by Victim Support.

Enhanced homicide support service

The third initiative is an enhanced homicide support service. This service provides practical and emotional support to families of homicide victims throughout the criminal justice process. The service began in July 2010 and is managed by Victim Support.

Increase in discretionary grant

The fourth initiative increases the discretionary grant for families of homicide victims suffering financial difficulties from $1,500 to $5,000. The eligibility criteria for the grant has also been expanded.  Victim Support is continuing to administer the grant and the funding increase began in November 2009.

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Additional support for victims of sexual violence

Two of the initiatives focus on providing additional help to victims of sexual violence.

Specialist Victim Advisors

A specialised court support service has been established to assist victims of sexual violence and lessen the negative impact of the criminal justice process on these victims.  The new service is being rolled out gradually by the Ministry of Justice.  The service draws on the experience and organisational structure of the Ministry of Justice's existing Court Services for Victims (Victim Advisors).  The first six specialist Victim Advisors began operating in the Auckland court region in July 2010.

New grant for victims of sexual violence

A fund has been established to help victims of sexual violence cover some of the immediate one-off costs they face as a result of the offence. Victims of sexual violence can claim up to $500 for costs such as replacing clothing taken for forensic examination. The initiative began in January 2010 and is administered by Victim Support.

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Additional support for victims of serious crime

The remaining two initiatives provide assistance to all victims of serious crime.

More funding for travel to court

The Government-funded 'Travel Assistance Scheme' provides financial assistance for victims of serious crime to travel to court proceedings and Parole Board hearings. The amount of funding available through the scheme has been tripled. Victim Support continues to administer the grant and the funding increase began in November 2009.

New information resources

The final initiative has increased the amount of information available for victims of crime.  A DVD and pamphlets have been developed that provide simple and accurate information about the criminal court process and outline the support services available to victims of crime. The Ministry of Justice developed the new information resources in collaboration with justice sector stakeholders. These resources are available on the Victims Information website.

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