Opportunity Lost: In Search of Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault

University of New South Wales
Publication Type:
Journal article
Forster Christine and Jivan Vedna 2005, 'Opportunity Lost: In Search of Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault', The University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 758-779.
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Five children, sexually abused by a perpetrator known to them, were recently denied compensatory redress under the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (NSW) (' VSRA ').1 The children were unsuccessful because the NSW Court of Appeal held they had not provided evidence of their injuries. The case arose out of the introduction of 'offence-based' sexual assault provisions into the New South Wales criminal injuries compensation scheme. The term 'offence-based' refers to an approach that primarily assesses the amount of compensation on the basis of the criminal seriousness of the perpetrator's conduct rather than the severity of the victim's injuries.' The purpose of introducing an offence-based approach for this group of victims, this note argues, was to reduce the arduous nature of the application process, thereby signalling a timely recognition of the historical discrimination faced by victims of sexual abuse in accessing the scheme. The inadequate drafting of the provisions had however led to uncertainty amongst practitioners and academics alike regarding the requirement to provide proof of injury. 3
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