Giving a voice to victims of crime

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The government has announced it will introduce new laws to make it easier for victims of crime to share their stories and experiences publicly.

The Victorian Labor Government will amend the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 to clarify the current law and change the way that publication restrictions in the Children’s Court apply to victims of crime, an official press release said on Sep 22.

Currently, a person must not publish, or cause to be published, a report of a Children’s Court proceeding that contains information that is likely to lead to the identification of a child, witness, or other party in the proceeding.

For example, under current laws, a victim who is a witness in a criminal matter in the Children’s Court could be subject to potential prosecution if they speak publicly about their experience.

Under the Labor Government’s planned reforms, victims will be explicitly excluded from this provision as it relates to the disclosure of their own identities, the release said.

The changes will apply to the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court, and it will remain an offence to publish a report that contains information which is likely to lead to the identification of a child accused, other party or witness.

These proposed changes are consistent with recommendations flagged by Justice Frank Vincent who is currently finalising his review of the Open Courts Act. Justice Vincent will provide his final report to Government at the end of this month.

The changes also respond to the concerns raised publicly by the Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies.

The Government will work with the Children’s Court on the proposed changes, and intends to include these in legislation to be introduced before the end of the year.

(TIW)