Proactive versus reactive victims’ rights legislation: Findings from victim interviews

Rhiannon Davies

University of Tasmania Faculty of LawRhiannon.Davies@utas.edu.au

In South Australia and Tasmania, under their victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter respectively, information about the conduct of a trial, including the progress of investigation, the laying of charges, and the acceptance of a guilty plea, is only provided to victims upon the victim’s request. In contrast, under the proactive victims’ rights legislation that operates in the ACT and Victoria, the obligation to provide victims with information about the progress of a matter lies with the DPP.

This paper discusses key findings from an empirical study of victim impact statement and sentencing procedures from the perspective of victims of sexual offending across the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Victim interviews reveal that the operation of the reactive victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter in South Australia and Tasmania can cause significant issues arising from the lack of information actively provided to victims throughout the trial process.

Biography

Rhiannon is a lawyer and former social worker with an interest in socio-legal research. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania’s School of Law. Her thesis explores judicial acknowledgement of victims and their impact statements at sentencing in sex offence cases.

Proactive versus reactive victims’ rights legislation: Findings from victim interviews

Rhiannon Davies

University of Tasmania Faculty of LawRhiannon.Davies@utas.edu.au

In South Australia and Tasmania, under their victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter respectively, information about the conduct of a trial, including the progress of investigation, the laying of charges, and the acceptance of a guilty plea, is only provided to victims upon the victim’s request. In contrast, under the proactive victims’ rights legislation that operates in the ACT and Victoria, the obligation to provide victims with information about the progress of a matter lies with the DPP.

This paper discusses key findings from an empirical study of victim impact statement and sentencing procedures from the perspective of victims of sexual offending across the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Victim interviews reveal that the operation of the reactive victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter in South Australia and Tasmania can cause significant issues arising from the lack of information actively provided to victims throughout the trial process.

Biography

Rhiannon is a lawyer and former social worker with an interest in socio-legal research. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania’s School of Law. Her thesis explores judicial acknowledgement of victims and their impact statements at sentencing in sex offence cases.

The experiences of whistleblowers after misconduct is reported

I. Dussuyer1 and R. G. Smith2

1 Victoria University
2 Australian Institute of Criminology

*corresponding author: iddussuyer@hotmail.com

While the reporting of misconduct is increasingly encouraged in organisations, the people who do so – also termed  ‘whistle-blowers’ – may experience retaliation and victimisation for having spoken up, in spite of efforts to protect them through legislation and policies. This paper presents findings from qualitative research carried out in during 2015. To understand the experiences of whistle-blowers, interviews were conducted with a self-selected sample of whistle-blowers from the private and public sectors (n=27) who had contacted either of two hotline/support services. To understand the whistleblowing experience further, the perspectives of people who receive and handle whistle-blowers  (such as investigators, disclosure coordinators and hotline operators) were also obtained through interviews (n=22).  The findings show that although the whistle-blowers interviewed reported a range of negative experiences after reporting misconduct, many were pleased to have had done so and would do it again if necessary. The perspectives of those receiving whistle-blower reports focussed on ways in which the negative experiences of whistle-blowers could be prevented and on the positive outcomes for the organisation after whistle-blowers had reported misconduct. The findings will assist in developing more open and transparent organisations where reports from whistle-blowers are welcomed and in improving psychological safety in the workplace.

Biography

Dr Russell G Smith has worked at the Australian Institute of Criminology  for over 20 years, carrying out research into fraud, cybercrime and professional regulation. With qualifications in law, psychology and criminology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from King’s College London, he practised as a solicitor in the 1980s and then taught criminology at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s. He has been a member of ANZSOC for over 35 years and was its President between 2009 and 2012.

The experiences of whistleblowers after misconduct is reported

I. Dussuyer1 and R. G. Smith2

1 Victoria University
2 Australian Institute of Criminology

*corresponding author: iddussuyer@hotmail.com

While the reporting of misconduct is increasingly encouraged in organisations, the people who do so – also termed  ‘whistle-blowers’ – may experience retaliation and victimisation for having spoken up, in spite of efforts to protect them through legislation and policies. This paper presents findings from qualitative research carried out in during 2015. To understand the experiences of whistle-blowers, interviews were conducted with a self-selected sample of whistle-blowers from the private and public sectors (n=27) who had contacted either of two hotline/support services. To understand the whistleblowing experience further, the perspectives of people who receive and handle whistle-blowers  (such as investigators, disclosure coordinators and hotline operators) were also obtained through interviews (n=22).  The findings show that although the whistle-blowers interviewed reported a range of negative experiences after reporting misconduct, many were pleased to have had done so and would do it again if necessary. The perspectives of those receiving whistle-blower reports focussed on ways in which the negative experiences of whistle-blowers could be prevented and on the positive outcomes for the organisation after whistle-blowers had reported misconduct. The findings will assist in developing more open and transparent organisations where reports from whistle-blowers are welcomed and in improving psychological safety in the workplace.

Biography

Dr Russell G Smith has worked at the Australian Institute of Criminology  for over 20 years, carrying out research into fraud, cybercrime and professional regulation. With qualifications in law, psychology and criminology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from King’s College London, he practised as a solicitor in the 1980s and then taught criminology at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s. He has been a member of ANZSOC for over 35 years and was its President between 2009 and 2012.

“I wasn’t expecting anything anymore”: The challenges of reporting online fraud in Australia

C. Cross1*, K. Richards2

1 School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology
2 School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology

*corresponding author: ca.cross@qut.edu.au

This paper presents results from the first national study to examine the reporting experiences of online fraud victims in Australia. The study involved qualitative interviews with 80 individuals who reported losses to online fraud of at least $10,000 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The paper presents the experiences of victims in their attempts to report their online fraud incident to a wide range of agencies, including law enforcement agencies. Based on the narratives of these victims, the paper details the overwhelmingly negative experiences of individuals, through an inability to report the incident; through the trivialisation or minimisation of what occurred; and through both direct and indirect victim blaming by the agency towards the victim. As a result, the paper also highlights how the reporting experience both exacerbated and added to the level of trauma and distress already suffered by online fraud victims. Based on these findings, the paper advocates required changes to improve the reporting experience of this particular group of victims, and concludes by locating these results in a broader discussion on how this can impact on the reporting of other crimes and can undermine public confidence in police as a whole.

Biography

Cassandra Cross is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology. Her main area of research examines all aspects of online fraud, including prevention, policing and victim support. She has received two highly competitive Criminology Research Grants, one in 2013 to conduct the first Australian study into the reporting experiences and support needs of online fraud victims; and one in 2015 to examine the restoration of identity for identity theft victims. She is co-author (with Professor Mark Button) of the book entitled “Cyber frauds, scams, and their victims”, which will be published by Routledge in 2017.

Victim Impact Statements: Who really benefits?

C. James, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor California State University, Fresno, Department of Criminology, chadleyj@csufresno.edu

The old adage of victims being the forgotten actors in the criminal justice system (CJS) seems to no longer apply. Today, victims’ rights ensure the participation of victims at various stages of the criminal justice process. The most notable form of participation is the creation and delivery of a victim impact statement at the sentencing phase of a criminal trial. However, the use of victim impact statements has ignited a debate to who actually benefits from these statements: the victim? Or the CJS? Research has shown that the emotionally charged statements lead to more punitive sentencing decisions, and have shown little in the way of victim satisfaction, and recovery from the trauma after their experience in the CJS. Despite evidence that suggest that victim impact statements do not accomplish what they set out to achieve, a rethinking of there use is needed. This paper analyzes the process of creating and delivering victim impact statements, and argues that it is the CJS that benefits from its use. Given that the inclusion of these statements is here to stay, potential solutions to the victim benefiting when making these statements are also presented. Doing this is argued to better prepare and manage the victim during the process and hopefully elicit the victimological yield intended for these statements.

 

The role of victims in parole board decisions

K.J. McLachlan

Victim Support Service (SA) and Parole Board of South Australia, katherinem@victimsa.org

How much influence do victims of crime have in whether an offender is awarded parole and under what conditions?

The author examines the current rights of victims of crime to influence adult parole board decisions across Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions.

She then considers the international evidence relating to the involvement of victims in parole decisions, with regard to benefits to victims and relevance when predicting risk and future offending behaviour of parolees.

Finally, drawing from the views of actual Parole Board members from Australia and New Zealand, the author examines the weight and importance given to victims of crime and their wishes when parole board decisions are made.

Through the consideration of these three factors, the author attempts to answer the question: What is the role of victims of crime in parole board decisions?

Biography

Katherine is the victim representative on the Parole Board of SA and Quality and Research Manager, VSS. She has 15 years’ experience working in policy and research relating to child protection, youth justice and violent offending particularly violence against women. She worked for South Australia Police and was the Sexual Assault Analyst for the AIC. She has also previously worked in the NFP sector. Katherine holds a Research Masters degree in Law (Victimology) and an Honours degree in Psychology. She has taught criminology subjects at Flinders University and UniSA. Katherine is the SA representative on the ANZSOC Committee of Management.

Indigenous women’s experiences of domestic and family violence and its impact on relocation, housing stability and parenting

Dr Silke Meyer

Central Queensland University

This presentation is based on qualitative face-to-face interviews with Indigenous women in two regional Queensland research sites. Interviews focused on women’s experiences of domestic and family violence, related housing instabilities and the role of children. These interviews formed part of a larger study on cultural and regional differences in Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s experiences of domestic and family violence and related homelessness. Findings reveal the role of intergenerational trauma, a normalisation of violence, the role of community and kinship ties and other challenges associated with leaving an abusive relationship in regional and remote settings. For many women, the decision to leave increased their risk of homelessness and their loss of social support. Implications for interventions will be discussed.

Biography

Dr Silke Meyer is a Lecturer at the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Research Centre at Central Queensland University. She is currently developing and delivering a new postgraduate program in Domestic and Family Violence Practice. Her research centres on different aspects of domestic and family violence, including women and children’s safety and wellbeing, perpetrator accountability and experiences specific to Australian Indigenous communities. Dr Meyer’s most recent projects examine cultural and regional differences in women’s experiences of domestic and family violence and related homelessness, engaging Domestic and Family Violence perpetrators as fathers and factors associated with Indigenous and non-Indigenous parents’ help-seeking.

Perceptions of forgiveness for victims and offenders: Somewhere between “forgiveness frees me” and “I don’t expect their forgiveness”

T. Jenkins

Griffith Criminology Institute, t.jenkins@griffith.edu.au

A substantial body of literature exists emphasizing the psychological, emotional, behavioural, and somatic impacts that crime has on victims. A smaller yet rapidly increasing body of work suggests forgiveness may hold healing potentialities for victims of crime. Significantly less is known about the impact that forgiveness has on perpetrators. Using qualitative in-depth interviews with 12 victims and 19 offenders this paper examines the different perceptions victims and offenders hold with respect to the giving and receiving of forgiveness. The saliency of forgiveness for victims lay primarily in its personal healing capacities whereas the receipt of forgiveness has varied relevance and meaning to offenders depending on the circumstances of the offence and/or the one offering forgiveness. Self-forgiveness has particular relevance for both victims and offenders. A better understanding of the significance of forgiveness in the lives of crime victims and offenders has practical implications for clinicians, service providers, and criminal justice professionals involved in the treatment or custodial care of these populations.

Biography

Tamera Jenkins is a PhD candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University.  Research experience includes the reparative role of forgiveness in cases of traumatic violence and the impact of U.S. federal sentencing laws on rates of incarceration. Current research focuses on the impact of crime on victims and offenders, the manner in which they identify, appraise, or place value on giving and/or receiving forgiveness and the effect that these perceptions has on their psychological, emotional, behavioural, and somatic well-being.

An unthinkable crime: Parents who kill

W. Bryant1*, S. Lyneham1 & S. Bricknell1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology, Willow.Bryant@aic.gov.au

Almost a fifth of family homicide incidents in Australia are filicides, or the killing of children by their parents. Few Australian studies, however, have described national patterns in filicide incidents, victims and offenders. To address this gap, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) partnered with Monash University to examine filicides that occurred in Australia between 2000 and 2012. This paper presents findings from analysis of the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program with a focus on filicide offender and offending characteristics. It describes custodial relationships between offender and victim, methods by which children were killed, history of prior domestic violence or other criminal offending, experience of mental illness, post-homicide suicide rates and co-offender association.

Biography

Willow Bryant has been a Research Officer with the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Violence and Exploitation Research Program since 2013. Willow obtained her Bachelor of Psychology Science/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Class IIA Honours) from Griffith University. She has worked on the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program for approximately two years and has extensive familiarity with this dataset.

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