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Published: 05 March 2019
Author: Sharon Barnes
Survivors of sex abuse have already been traumatised so why should their perpetrator be involved with a victims application for assistance? Many will argue that the experience will only re-traumatise the survivor.
Not everyone has had court experience and it can be intimidating even if you are not the one facing charges. Generally, very sensitive topics are discussed and this in itself can be traumatising and intimidating.
If there is no conviction for a crime for which you have lodged a Victims of Crime Application, then the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal may choose to notify the alleged offender of the application and they then may opt to be a part of the proceedings. They don't have to respond but if they do, they may be involved and this often leads to a victim withdrawing their application without even having the chance of their day in court.
The survivor should always be given notice if the alleged offender is going to be notified and they have the opportunity to make a submission against the notification and the decision is then made by the Tribunal member. If the alleged offender is going to be notified the victim does have the opportunity to withdraw their application.
If the alleged offender is notified and they respond to be a part of the application, the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal will list the matter for a Directions Hearing to sort out how the matter will proceed. The victim does not have to attend the Directions Hearing but they can be represented by the Lawyer.
No, the alleged offender will not have to talk to the victim and often they will not be in the Tribunal at the same time. The survivor can be legally represented and their representation will do all the talking to the alleged offender, so if they are notified the victim is still supported by legal representation which hopefully reduces the stress involved.
The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal is there for the victims and in my opinion, it is unnecessary for an offender to be involved.
The Tribunal has access to the police brief and they have medical support as well as having the opportunity to hear evidence from the victim. The burden of proof for a survivor is lower than what it is for criminal charges so with the police brief, medical support and evidence from the victim, there should be enough evidence to support an application without the need of the alleged offender being involved.
Survivors need support and do not need any re-traumatisation so if alleged offenders were not going to be involved the recovery process may be more successful and done in a more timely manner.
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