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Victorian law reform: Concern for victim support

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Cite as: March 2015 89 (3) LIJ, p.78

The role of victims in criminal trials is under review.

In October 2014 the VLRC received two new references from then Attorney-General Robert Clark. The first is a review of the role of victims of crime in the criminal trial process.

The VLRC will review the ways that victims are involved in all aspects of criminal trials, beginning with the decision to prosecute, the trial itself, sentencing, and the making of orders including for compensation and restitution. In particular, the review will consider how effectively support is provided to victims in criminal trials.

The VLRC will consider recent innovations to the role of victims in criminal trials in Victoria and other jurisdictions. The review will involve consideration of the historical development of criminal trial processes in England and other jurisdictions, and a comparative analysis of the role of victims in civil law jurisdictions compared with common law jurisdictions.

Today there is more concern about the needs of victims of crime than was formerly the case. Victims of crime may have experienced both physical and psychological harm, and the process of participating in the justice system can be challenging. New procedures and support services have been introduced to help victims of crime cope and participate fully in the process.

The VLRC is interested in hearing the views and experiences of people who have been victims of crime and their families to find out if the system is working well and whether changes are needed. It is looking at victims across the spectrum of offences and different types of crime, including physical assaults, family violence and sexual offences. It is considering issues such as whether victims are well informed about the criminal justice system and whether they feel they are sufficiently included in the process.

The VLRC will consult with people who work in the criminal justice system to find out whether the system is working well with regard to victims. It is interested in talking to legal practitioners, police and those in the court system among others. It is seeking to be as inclusive as possible and anticipates hearing a diverse range of views.

The VLRC will report by 1 September 2016.

Regulatory regimes preventing infiltration of organised crime

The VLRC has been asked to review and report on the use of regulatory regimes to help prevent organised crime and criminal organisations entering and operating through lawful occupations and industries.

While there have been developments in the criminal law in response to organised crime, the focus of this reference is on how organised crime can be prevented or disrupted by broader administrative mechanisms. For example, licensing regimes in NSW and Queensland were introduced to break the connection between tattoo parlours and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

The VLRC is reviewing the experience of Victoria, other Australian jurisdictions and other countries in using occupational and industrial regulatory regimes such as these. It will consider to what extent they are effective, the costs and benefits, and how best to structure them to ensure that they prevent infiltration by organised crime. In particular, the VLRC is exploring whether a framework of principles can be established for assessing the risks of infiltration and developing a suitable regulatory response.

It will consider regulatory options such as licensing, registration, notification, statutory and discretionary exclusions, fit and proper person test, criminal offences, and the level of sanctions.

The VLRC is interested in hearing from people across a range of occupations and industries to find out the challenges they face in preventing the infiltration of organised crime, and how regulatory regimes assist or may be able to assist.

The VLRC will report by 29 February 2016.

Contributed by the VICTORIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION. For further information ph 8608 7800 or see


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