Many community legal centres in NSW assist clients who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault to make applications for compensation. Many clients are Aboriginal women and claims include long histories of domestic violence or child sexual assault.
Victims compensation can validate the very difficult disclosures of violence by victims and provide some sense of accountability and acknowledgement by the community of the harm done and impact on their lives. The compensation awards, although not large, provide practical support and assistance that beneficially impact on their lives.
It is important that the government hear about the benefits of a compensation scheme for people who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault. The discussion paper can be downloaded from NSW Victims Services website - www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/vs
JANET LOUGHMAN is Principal Solicitor at the Women’s Legal Services NSW. EDWINA MacDONALD is Law Reform and Policy Solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre.