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Victims compensation a ‘lost cause’: Sentencing Advisory Council

Victoria’s victims compensation system is a ‘mess’ and the reality is many victims will never see any money, according to the Sentencing Advisory Council.

Professor Arie Freiberg, Chair of the Council, told Neil Mitchell the problems all stem back to crooks not having any money in the first place.

“The sad story is at the moment, although the victims have a right to restitution and compensation, our figures show somewhere between zero and two per cent of all restitution and compensation claims are actually fulfilled,” Professor Freiberg said.

“It’s a civil order, it’s up to the victim to follow up on a compensation order and it costs money to do so.

“The reality is many of the offenders don’t have any money so it’s a lost cause.”

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Professor Freiberg likened the system to ‘getting blood out of a stone’.

“It’s very messy,” he said.

“If you make it a criminal order, there are lots of complications but one advantage could be that it passes the responsibility to the government to follow it up, which is very expensive and possibly not much more of a chance that they’ll get money if money isn’t there.

“Maybe we waive all the fees relating to civil enforcement another one is just transfer it automatically to civil jurisdiction and get the sheriff’s office which enforces fines to follow up on our behalf, all of those are premised on the fact that somebody has money to pay.”