Last updated 11 April 2017 This chapter is currently under review.
Fundamental principles of justice
The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 (Qld) (VOCA Act) contains fundamental principles of justice for victims of crime that bind all government agencies. The nine principles are based on the United Nations’ Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power and are intended to guide the behaviour of prescribed officers (e.g. police officers, court staff and other government officers) when dealing with victims of crime.
The fundamental principles of justice stipulate that victims can expect (ss 8-16 VOCA Act):
- fair and dignified treatment
- information about services
- information about investigation of offenders
- information about prosecution of offenders
- advice on their role as a witness
- minimal contact with the accused
- to provide details during sentencing about the impact of the crime on the victim
- to be able to request that their impact statement is read aloud during sentencing of the offenders
- information about convicted offenders.
Provisions to enable victims to make a complaint about a government agency where the actions of the agency have been inconsistent with the fundamental principles of justice are included in the VOCA Act (ss 17-20).
To make a complaint, the victim should raise the matter directly with the relevant agency in the first instance. The agency must take all reasonable steps to resolve the complaint as soon as reasonably practicable (s 20(2)(b) VOCA Act). If the victim is not satisfied with the response they receive or do not want to contact the agency directly, they can make a complaint through the Victim Services Coordinator at Victim rights and complaints.
Victim impact statement
Although it is not compulsory, a victim has the right to make a statement about the impact the crime has had on them (s 15 VOCA Act) during sentencing. A victim impact statement:
- is a written document that details the harm caused to the victim and/or their significant others (physical and psychological injuries, emotional and financial impacts)
- is given to the prosecutor who provides the statement to the sentencing court (s 15(3) VOCA Act)
- assists the court to understand the impact of the crime on the victim. The absence of a statement does not mean the victim suffered little or no harm (s 15(6) VOCA Act)
- may be prepared by the victim or someone else
- may be read aloud during sentencing (s 15A VOCA Act).
The Queensland Government’s Guide to Completing a Victim Impact Statement aims to assist victims in writing their statement.