The HVSG (Aust) Inc. has been instrumental in changing numerous pieces of legislation in the past nineteen years and are continuing to do so. When our families come up against problems or inequities, we work with them to change or improve things for the next victim.Although many of our “older” families experienced feelings of powerlessness in the past, they stood up and demanded many of the rights outlined below, changing legislation and public perception as they fought back. This fight for Reform was one of the founding objectives of the Homicide Victims’ Support Group (Aust) Inc.
An example of this happened in 2004 – as one of our young members stood up in court to deliver her Victim Impact Statement concerning her adored grandfathers murder, the Defence counsel objected and pointed out that grandchildren were not eligible as they were not seen as “immediate family”. Why? Some children are raised by their grandparents and, in many cultures, grandparents are very much an integral part of the immediate family. We raised this matter and the legislation has been changed.
Currently, we are working on changes to the Mental Health Act.
Some of the major pieces of legislation passed or changed, due to the lobbying of the HVSG (Aust) Inc. include:
- Abolishment of Dock Statements for all accused – 1994
- Mandatory Life Sentences Act – 1995
- Prevention of Convicted Prisoners Receiving Compensation – 1995
- Court Delays for Homicide and Serious Crimes – 1995-2000
- Victim Impact Statements – 1996
- Victims Compensation Act – 1996
- Diminished Responsibility – 1996
- Victims Registry – 1996-2000
- Charter of Victims Rights & Victims Rights Act – 1996
- Children’s Criminal Procedures Act (allowing victims into court) – 1998
- Seizing prisoners assets to pay for Victims Compensation – 1998
- Increasing Police Powers (stop and search) – 1999-2000
- Home Invasion Laws – 1999
- Knife Laws – 1999
- Jury Preparation – 2000
- Redetermination of Sentence Laws – 2001-2002
- Disclosure of the Defence Case – 2001
- DNA Legislation – 2001
- Oral Victim Impact Statements – 2003
- Standard Non Parole Periods – 2004
- Double Jeopardy – 2007
Many of those families who have gone before you have worked with heart and soul to improve the rights of victims – trying to make our Justice system more “Victim orientated” and less “Offender orientated”.
With your help, this work will continue – to improve conditions for those who will, sadly, inevitably follow you.