Victims Compensation Changes

On 30 May 2013, the NSW Parliament passed the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013, which has replaced the NSW Victims Compensation Scheme with a new Victims Support Scheme. The sweeping changes drastically cut payments to victims of rape and domestic violence.

 Read background information on the 2013 changes
 Links to media coverage

Reassessment of Victims Compensation Claims close 31 August 2016

Victims who lodged an application for compensation under the old scheme (before 7 May 2013) have until 31 August 2016 to apply for reassessment of their claim.

The Victims Services website has information about the reassessment scheme, including:

If you would like legal advice about the impact of the changes please contact us, your local Community Legal Centre, or LawAccess.

“Retrospective changes were a mistake”

Both Labor and the Liberal Party announced prior to the 2015 election that it was unjust to make the 2013 victims compensation changes apply to claims that had already been lodged. Following the election the Government introduced a scheme for the reassessment of all claims lodged under the old scheme (so before 7 May 2013). The Victims Rights and Support Amendment (Transitional Claims) Regulation 2015 commenced on 1 September 2015.

These announcements are a significant achievement. Since 2013, Community Legal Centres, including WLS, have raised our concerns about the unfairness of determining claims lodged before the changes under the new scheme, with the result that victims received dramatically less than they expected. We have continued to voice our concerns at every opportunity.

We congratulate and acknowledge the amazing work of rape survivor Katrina Keshishian, who spoke out about her experiences and vividly exposed the unfairness of the changes to the law. Links to many articles about Katrina’s efforts to overturn the unfair law are listed below.

But further action is still needed. As outlined in the CLCNSW letter to the NSW Attorney General on 16 June 2014, retrospectivity was not our only concern. The new scheme also fails to adequately address the trauma suffered by victims of domestic violence; imposes unfair time limits and harsh documentary evidence requirements.

It is vital that both Liberal and Labor take the next step to ensure that victims of crime in NSW have access to a scheme that is fair, adequately recognises the trauma they have suffered and supports victims to live safely.

Opposition to the 2013 changes:

Community Legal Centres in NSW including WLS NSW opposed the changes. For more information about why the changes are a step backwards, see the CLCNSW webpage “Victims Compensation: Vital for Victims”

12 months after the changes were brought in CLCNSW wrote to the NSW Attorney General on 16 June 2014  about the impact of the changes on victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

WLS NSW position paper: Changes to the NSW Victims Compensation Scheme – Issues of concern (16 May 2013) 

UN Appeal: Urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (17 May 2013)

Media Releases:

5 November 2014: UN Special Rapporteur requests additional information on NSW victim’s compensation scheme

20 May 2013: Women’s organisations and human rights lawyers appeal to UN to prevent abolishing of NSW victims compensation scheme

8 May 2013: Victims compensation changes set to impact on Royal Commission child sexual abuse victims

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