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Victim-centred justice

Transforming the response of the courts

Investment: $269.4 million over 4 years

Supports Royal Commission recommendations: 11, 22, 28, 56, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 79, 80, 81, 87, 90, 114, 118, 120, 122, 126, 131, 132, 135, 136, 138, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 158, 168, 175, 182, 185, 197, 214, 215, 216

Supports the Coronial Inquest into the death of Luke Batty recommendations: 6, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 

We know that many victims find their experience at court intimidating and unsafe. In addition, the courts are dealing with significant demand which has caused infrastructure deficiencies and a range of pressures on court-based professionals and services. This directly impacts victims and can make them fearful or reluctant to engage with the court process when they are most in need of legal protection.

We are committed to enhancing the response of courts so that it provides a victim-centred and evidence-based approach, while holding perpetrators to account and keeping them in view.

We are investing $269.4 million over 4 years to expand Specialist Family Violence Courts and make broader enhancements to support the response of the justice system to family violence and improve the experience of victims at court.

To further support the response of our justice system and provide families with appropriate and effective legal support when they need it we are also:

  • developing a new case management system for the Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court to better collect, store and share information
  • improving the use of technology in courts
  • fast-tracking family violence-related criminal cases
  • implementing family violence service delivery improvements, including a family violence contact centre
  • providing Victoria Legal Aid and Community Legal Centre duty lawyers at the new Specialist Family Violence Courts
  • expanding the coverage of duty lawyers across Magistrates’ Courts
  • increasing funding for grants of legal aid for representation at Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) contest hearings and breach proceedings
  • providing additional staff for Victoria Legal Aid’s Legal Help telephone service
  • providing additional legal aid to meet the increased demand in child protection matters in the Children’s Court of Victoria

In addition to this investment, we are enhancing the approach to victim-centred justice for Aboriginal communities by:

  • increasing legal representation and support provided by the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria and Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service to meet the growing demand from both Aboriginal victims and perpetrators of violence
  • continuing and expanding the Koori Women’s Diversion Program to break the cycle of victimisation, violence and offending for Aboriginal women
  • continuing Koori-specific dispute resolution services and programs offered by the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria
  • employing extra Aboriginal support workers within the Victims Assistance Program

We are also developing legal and other information and resources for LGBTI communities regarding safe and accessible sources of support, including clear referral pathways and links between specialist and universal services and a LGBTI community education campaign.

Specialist Family Violence Courts

To build on improvements we have already started, the next stage of critical and substantial court reforms to provide a specialist response to family violence will involve the following actions:

  • fully implementing Specialist Family Violence Courts at Shepparton, Heidelberg, Ballarat, Frankston and Moorabbin in the next four years. This will include:
    • capping the number of family violence cases before Magistrates so there is more time to hear cases
    • providing specialist magistrates, registrars, applicant and respondent practitioners, as well as dedicated police prosecutors and civil advocates
    • providing facilities for access to specialist family violence service providers and lawyers
    • expanding the number of court rooms available for family violence matters so that more cases can be heard each day.
  • upgrading courts associated with the expansion of the Specialist Family Violence Courts model
  • investing in the workforce and culture of the courts including:
    • multi-disciplinary team-based education and training for the staff of the Specialist Family Violence Courts
    • comprehensive family violence, family law and child protection education and training for judicial officers and court staff
    • continuing the rollout of daily family violence coordination meetings in Magistrates’ Courts throughout 2017.
  • Additional resources and asset works to make the courts and safer environment for children, young people and their families. 
 

Reforming the response of Victoria Police

Supports Royal Commission recommendations: 41, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 101, 115, 125, 130, 151, 159, 186

In December 2016, we announced an unprecedented $2 billion  investment in Victoria Police. The investment funds additional police, including specialist family violence officers and ensures that Victoria Police is able to provide the comprehensive and consistent response that the community expects.

To build a better response to family violence, Victoria Police are:

  • transforming the front line response to family violence by recruiting 415 new police in specialist and dedicated family violence roles
  • reforming the operating model for specialist Family Violence Teams
  • reviewing policies and practices outlined in the Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence
  • developing a new Violence against Women and Children Strategy
  • improving police responses to family violence in Koori communities to address family violence in a culturally appropriate manner, including
    • introducing four additional Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers in Echuca, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and the Eastern Metro region
    • expanding the Koori Family Violence Protocols to a further five locations by 2021
    • delivering specialist training for police to improve Aboriginal culturally appropriate practice.

Victoria Police Family Violence Centre of Learning

Investment: $2.9 million over 2 years

Supports Royal Commission recommendation: 42

The Centre of Learning will deliver career-long family violence training to police officers, tailored to their rank, role and career stage.

Specialist training will commence from March 2018 and the Centre of Learning will be fully operational by 2019. It will:  

  • train police to accurately identify the primary aggressor
  • understand and respond to risk
  • treat victims with dignity and respect

 

Police technology

Investment: $227 million over 4 years

Supports Royal Commission recommendations: 54, 58

From the second half of 2017, frontline officers will be equipped with a new mobile device that will be used to capture evidence and give them better access to information in the field, allowing them to carry out identity checks and swiftly report crime and other incidents. More than 10,000 iPhones and iPad minis will be delivered to the force.

We have also invested in the state-wide roll out of body worn cameras, enabling officers to continuously capture video evidence and take statements, improving frontline efficiency and accountability. This will mean evidence can be captured on video from a victim at the scene of a family violence incident and later be used as evidence in court, reducing the re-traumatisation many victims experience.