Update

In November 2021 the Attorney-General tabled the report of the Review to Improve Victims’ Experience of Summary Criminal Proceedings. You can read the full report here.

The report found that victims often feel disconnected from summary proceedings because they lack information about the process, or they feel that their experience is overlooked in the process.

The report makes 12 recommendations that aim to improve victims’ experience of summary proceedings and address key issues raised during consultations, including the need to improve the accessibility of resources for victims and enhance processes for linking victims with supports.

The report also recommends providing opportunities for victims and experts to co-design policy solutions for the complex problems that require further consideration, such as reducing the additional barriers that diverse victims face when participating in summary proceedings.

The Victorian Government is now considering the report’s findings and will provide a response shortly.

A part of making this possible was Victorians sharing their stories and opinions about reform options on Engage Victoria. Your contributions helped shape the recommendations and we thank you.

This report complements other reform work that aims to improve the experience of victims generally, including victims in summary criminal proceedings. For example, the Victims of Crime Commissioner is conducting an inquiry into victims as participants in the justice system.

Overview

The Victims’ Charter Act 2006 (Victims’ Charter) required the Attorney-General to conduct a review into changes to improve the experience of victims participating in summary criminal proceedings. The review is now complete, with the tabling of the report.

The review focused on three issues:

  • victim involvement in decisions made by prosecutors (such as decisions to modify, continue or discontinue charges, or to accept a guilty plea)
  • victim participation in court processes (including victim impact statements and sentence indications)
  • support services for victims in the lower courts.

These issues were recognised as being important and likely to result in the highest impact improvements for the largest number of victims.

Our consultation - what you told us

During August and September, we asked Victorians to have their say about how to improve victims’ experience of summary criminal proceedings through an online survey on Engage Victoria, along with the option to provide written feedback directly to us.

Through your responses, we heard that victims want more information about summary criminal proceedings and additional training for those working in the justice sector around the importance of victims participating in court processes.

The survey data collected supported the feedback we received during meetings with justice and victim-focused stakeholders, including victim representatives. Your views, along with this feedback, helped to develop the recommendations the report makes.