Question asked by Troy in Parliament
Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (14:44): My question is to the Attorney-General. Can the Attorney-General confirm how the Commissioner for Victims' Rights, which is based in Adelaide, will be able to provide the same level of service with regard to victim impact statements for regional people as was provided face to face by the Victim Support Service?
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (14:44): Well, that's a very good question, and I thank the member for his question because I just explained that the Commissioner for Victims' Rights, Bronwyn Killmier, appointed by this government, a former highly regarded police officer of longstanding work, had two features which I think were very attractive to her appointment. One is her incredible experience in dealing with family violence in her career as a police officer; and secondly, her very clear understanding of the needs of regional South Australia, both in police protection, obviously, in relation to crime and for the victims of them.
So when the government determined to have a look at how we ran victims' services generally, which include counselling, there was an increased role—because there was a significant overlap also—for her and we worked with her as to how that would better be delivered. One of the things to do was to have the contract in relation to counselling go out to tender. Members are aware of the contract that has been signed. I gave details to the parliament yesterday. Some may not have noticed, but we also made an announcement that an extra $250,000 would be made available via the commissioner's office—
Ms Stinson interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Badcoe is on two warnings.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: I am afraid the member for Badcoe interrupts again to try to add some information to this, which is largely useless, but in any event, I make this point: we had made commitments—
The SPEAKER: Order! Members on my right and left, please do not interject and, Deputy Premier, please do not respond to those interjections.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —that services such as companion support at the courts and the preparation of victim impact statements, which relate to the opportunity, of course, for victims to be able to present to the court the consequences to them of this particular crime, needed to be supplemented. So, she has been given the funding to be able to make sure that that will be administered. In addition to that, she is working with the SA Police on those matters, particularly the victim impact statements in regional areas, and with the services that are to be provided in Berri, Mount Gambier and Port Augusta with fixed offices, but with outreach to all of the AROs that I mentioned yesterday, which, of course, are a number.
What is important is that there is funding that is made available for that and that is precisely what we committed to do and we announced the funding for those extra services yesterday. Yes, she's a stellar person to undertake the assessment of what the needs are and where they should be prioritised. We are very grateful to have her and I think South Australia should be.
I made the point yesterday in relation to the counselling service, which is important to be available for victims during investigations, during preliminary legal matters, trials and sentencing and even when someone is in custody or when they're being released, these are all periods that are touch points when victims have to often relive the horror of what they have endured, and sometimes the witnesses as well.
We also have a witness support service attached to the DPP's office. Many members would know of our newest member there, Zero, our companion dog. He is my most important employee. He never answers back. He is very effective in relation to the support that is needed. We have made a number of commitments in relation to victims. We want this to be not an overlap of services, but good services to every South Australian who is a victim.