Since their election in 2018, Stuart Grimley and Tania Maxwell have been able to secure many commitments from the State Government dedicated to bettering the experiences of victim-survivors in the legal system.
Stuart is a former Sex Offences Detective with Victoria Police, so understands the sensitivities and difficulties that are presented with reporting and prosecuting crimes.
One major achievement was the funding for a Victims’ Legal Service. This was first announced in the 2021-22 Budget and whilst only provided for initial seed funding, it is the first of its kind in the State’s history. We look forward to pushing for the expansion of the Victims’ Legal Service as a matter of urgency.
On several occasions, both Stuart and Tania have been accompanied by victim-survivors of crimes such as stalking, family violence, deaths of a loved one and more when advocating in Parliament on key justice issues. This gives an otherwise ignored voice to victims of crime and allows them to share their stories to ensure crime is reduced in our state – this means there are less victims of crime.
Some examples of advocacy for victims of crime include:
– Providing a ‘right to review’ scheme for victims of crime – DHJP is fighting to bring in a scheme that would allow victims of crime (and their families) to appeal a decision to either not pursue a conviction or to accept a plea bargain (for example, a downgrading of murder to manslaughter). This would reassure victims that the decision made by police prosecutors is the right one.
– Family violence in the presence of a child – Rosie Batty assisted in launching this campaign for us, to acknowledge the inherent link between witnessing family violence and being involved negatively with the justice system.
– Grab and drag – Stuart tabled an e-petition with over 100,000 signatures on behalf of nurse Emm Jones. Emm had seen a story about Jackson Williams who was found not guilty of assault with intent to commit a sexual offence because the judge found they couldn’t prove there was sexual intent. Stuart and Derryn said the not guilty outcome would have been avoided if there was a new, specific offence for this scary, traumatic crime.
– Stalking Inquiry – Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party were able to secure an inquiry into stalking (by the Victorian Law Reform Commission) after the tragic death of Celeste Manno. This is due in early-mid 2022.
– Recognising the prevalence of coercive control – DHJP stood with three women (victim-survivors of family violence and the mother of a deceased victim of family violence) in Parliament to campaign the Government to take coercive control more seriously and review how coercive control is considered by our courts.
– Pilot for successful PTSI support program – Stuart has been campaigning for three years to advocate for sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Injury, as a result of a workplace incident or a traumatic experience. He has worked with the late Ron Fenton OAM to fund a Defence Community Dogs program where prisoners train rescue dogs to support veterans with PTSI.
– Victim Support & VOCAT Reforms – DHJP, especially Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell, have been disappointed by VOCAT and the difficulties victims seem to have in accessing financial support. DHJP spoke to media alongside three victims of crime in relation to VOCAT reforms.
– #LetUsSpeak – DHJP were fierce advocates for the #LetUsSpeak campaign, spearheaded by Nina Funnell. DHJP urged the Government to fix their mistake, which stopped victims from being able to speak their own name in respect to being a victim-survivor of sexual abuse.
– Supporting victim-survivors directly – both DHJPs state offices regularly assist victims of crime and their families with how to navigate the legal system and ‘where to turn’. Our offices have helped people by linking them up with support services and even being a support person in legal matters.
We spend billions of dollars on a ‘justice’ system that often places victims as an afterthought. It’s time to tip the scales.