The $50 offender levy has provided 2,091 grants and service for crime victims in its first year:
Since July last year, the levy has been imposed on all convicted offenders at the time of sentencing, regardless of the crime they commit. The levy is collected after reparation but before fines, and is in addition to any sentence or court order.
The levy was originally used to fund eight new entitlements and services for victims of serious crime, but five were added after the levy collected nearly double its first-year target of $2 million.
Justice Minister Simon Power pointed out that victims of crime find themselves in the criminal justice system through no fault of their own and the offender levy helps them through a very difficult time.
In its first year the levy paid out $1.64 million in services and entitlements for victims of crime and their families, including:
Families affected by homicide
• 296 people affected by homicide received assistance from the Homicide Support Service, which provides practical and emotional support throughout the criminal justice process.
• 96 grants were given to families to help with the loss of income and costs incurred immediately after the homicide.
• 322 family members received the $124 per day High Court attendance grant to help cover the loss of income incurred during High Court trials.
• 33 families received assistance with funeral or memorial service costs.
• 319 family members received assistance for expenses (such as travel, childcare, and accommodation) to help them attend court proceedings and Parole Board hearings.
Victims of sexual violence
• 298 victims received a one-off discretionary grant to cover immediate costs following a sexual assault.
• 539 victims were assisted by the Sexual Violence Court Support Service, which gives victims of sexual violence access to a trained and experienced victim adviser during the criminal court process.
Victims of serious crime
• 188 victims received assistance for expenses (such as travel, childcare, and accommodation) to help them attend court proceedings and Parole Board hearings.
Mr Power said the Offender Levy is an important part of the Government’s ongoing drive to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.
It is sobering to think there are so many victims but good the justice system now offers them more help and that it I’d funded by those who commit the crimes.