Despite strong and widespread opposition from victim-survivors and their advocates, the Commissioner Victims Rights has announced that the substantial detrimental changes to NSW Victims Support will take effect from 1 July 2020.
Over 40 organisations have made a Joint Statement opposing the changes.
“Given the Commissioner has failed to address the many concerns raised by victim-survivors the Joint Statement expresses no confidence in the Commissioner’s proposed 6-month review of the changes,” says Liz Snell, Law Reform and Policy Co-ordinator, Women’s Legal Service NSW.
You can read our Media Release here
Along with over 80 organisations and over 320 individuals, PWDA has signed on to an Open Letter to the Commissioner Victims Rights calling for proposed reforms to Victims Support to be scrapped and for the NSW Government to start a comprehensive review of Victims Support immediately with proper consultation.
On 20 April 2020, the Commissioner Victims Rights announced that significant systemic changes to NSW Victims Support would start just 5 days later. These reforms were announced without any consultation, including with victims’ groups, like the Victims Advisory Board, established specifically for that purpose. The Commissioner Victims Rights subsequently agreed to delay implementation for two weeks while a brief consultation process was undertaken. However, signatories to the Open Letter remain concerned by the possibility the changes might still be pursued without any further review process.
“If implemented, the changes will deny many victims-survivors of violence in NSW access to support they have a right to and need,” –Renata Field, Domestic Violence NSW.
Proposed changes shift the burden from Victims Services onto victim-survivors to:
- Collect their own evidence of violence and injury within strict timeframes
- Find an approved counsellor to help them in their recovery
- Submit evidence online
- Provide identification document
This greatly decreases accessibility to support, and creates barriers for survivors seeking support. These proposed changes will have an immense impact for all survivors, but will be particularly detrimental for First Nations people, people with disability, migrants and refugees, trans and gender diverse people, people from remote or rural areas, and other minority groups.
If you would like to sign the open letter it can be found here. There are also letter templates available if you would like to take action by emailing your MP.