PROPOSED changes to the NSW victims compensation scheme violate human rights standards and fail to fully recognise the trauma child abuse victims suffer, says a coalition of community and legal groups that have complained to the United Nations.
More than 30 groups, including the Hunter Community Legal Centre, have lodged the complaint with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, arguing the legislation before State Parliament would have a detrimental effect on thousands of victims of crime with claims already in the system.
At the same time, the Legislation Review Committee of parliament has flagged aspects of the bill that should be referred to parliament for consideration, including that there would be no discretion under the new scheme to accept late claims.
The government is overhauling the ‘‘unsustainable’’ current scheme, citing lengthy delays with processing claims and the lack of immediate support for victims.
The changes would impose a 10-year limit for sexual assault and domestic abuse victims to make claims for ‘‘recognition payments’’.
Child abuse victims would have 10 years after they turn 18 to lodge, a measure victims and advocates say will block those who need many years before they are ready to speak up. Maximum payments would be slashed retrospectively, from $50,000 to $15,000.
‘‘No member of parliament should vote for this law until they have spoken to one of the thousands of victims who face losing benefits,’’ Greens MP and committee member David Shoebridge said.
The complaint called for the UN to urge the government to withdraw the bill. Payments would be tied to types of crimes rather than the victim’s injuries, it said, and domestic violence would be recognised as an assault or an assault resulting in grievous bodily harm, which overlooked pyschological harm.
‘‘We are disappointed that the bill does not adequately recognise the trauma suffered by victims of crime by reducing compensation payments and by placing a 10 year time limit on claims,’’ Liz Pinnock, managing solicitor of the Hunter Community Legal Centre, said.