Victim Support is an organisation in NZ dedicated to supporting victims of crime with practical assistance, guidance services and emotional support.
What is Victim Support?
Victim Support is a New Zealand organisation committed to helping victims cope with immediate crisis, crime and trauma. They offer 24 hour personalised support, and provide trained support workers who can listen to what you say, offer options, and provide information to prepare you for upcoming processes. Victim Support workers will help you identify your own support networks, and help you find further community support if necessary.
What does Victim Support do?
Some of the ways Victim Support can help you include advocacy, assistance to attend court trials and parole boards, counselling and family conferences, discretionary grants, victim impact statements and referrals to specialist organisations. How each service is delivered will depend on your needs.
Personalised or general support on the rights and needs of victims among authorities, decision-makers, professionals and the general public to ensure victims are recognised and have access to support and resources. This includes advice on your rights under the Victim Rights Act.
Assistance to attend Court Trials or Parole Boards
An important aspect of victims’ rights is the ability for serious crime victims to have the opportunity to attend the various court processes or Parole Boards. Often, the need to attend such trials or hearings involves travel away from home, accommodation and/or childcare.
Victim Support manages the Government funded Travel Assistance Scheme. It provides serious crime victims, or those on the Victim Notification Register, with financial help to cover travel, accommodation and childcare costs associated with attending a High Court trial.
Counselling for Families of Homicide Victims
For the family and friends of a homicide victim the impact of such a death can be incredibly traumatic and unlike anything we can ever imagine. Victim Support recognises this by having a specifically trained team of workers to help friends and family through this immensely difficult time. We also provide counselling referrals for families of homicide victims and for witnesses first on the scene.
Attending a court trial as a crime victim can be a very stressful experience, and having a Victim Support Worker there to assist can make all the difference. Through training and practical experience, Victim Support Workers understand how the courts work and can help victims cope throughout the process.
Discretionary Grant for Families of Homicide Victims
Victim Support is contracted by the Ministry of Justice to administer payment of a discretionary grant to families of victims of homicide. The maximum to any one family is $1,500 per homicide. Evidence must be presented of financial hardship of the family concerned.
Family Group Conferencing
A Family Group Conference is a meeting of key people, including the family and victims, held to discuss the offending of a young person. They can be directed by the Youth Court or by the Youth Justice Co-ordinator as a means of avoiding going to court altogether. Victim Support workers can provide information on the process as well as offer support to the victim by attending. If a victim is unable to attend, a worker can be requested to present information on a victim’s behalf.
Reducing the Risk of Burglary
Victim Support’s Government-funded Target Hardening initiative is designed to help prevent low-income earners from becoming repeat burglary victims. For example, if someone on a community service card is burgled for a second time, they can apply to get secure locks installed. If they are burgled again they can then apply for an alarm system. Target Hardening is being successfully trialled in Auckland with a view to expanding nationwide.
Referral to Specialist Organisations
Victim Support workers will refer you to other agencies within your local community for further support if and when appropriate.
Restorative Justice meetings involve the victim, offender and community in a search for solutions that promote repair, reconciliation and restoration. They encourage all the individuals involved to come to terms on a personal level with the harm done. Victim Support workers can provide information on the process as well as attending with a victim for support.
Victim Emergency Grants
A wide range of physical and financial support services are offered by a variety of agencies to help people regain some normality after a crime or trauma. Despite this, there are occasions when people “fall through the cracks” and miss out on the assistance otherwise available to them. Victim Support can help these people with Victim Emergency Grants when help is not available elsewhere.
Victim Impact Statements
A Victim Impact Statement provides the opportunity for victims to report information about how a crime has affected them and impacted on their lives. It may be submitted by the victim in writing, audiotape or videotape and the content will be read by the judge and taken into account at sentencing. It is the responsibility of the Prosecutor to ensure that a Victim Impact Statement is prepared, however Victim Support workers are trained to assist clients in preparing these.
Victim Support has been contracted by the Ministry of Social Development to coordinate a support package for people experiencing stress and trauma as a result of the flooding in February 2006 of the lower North Island and Marlborough. The package is designed to be flexible in meeting peoples’ needs and to assist them in getting their lives back on track.
Assistance may come in the form of one-on-one or group counselling, facilitation of support groups and their related costs including transport, child minding, and relief workers.
How is Victim Support funded?
Victim Support relies on donations, sponsorship and grants to raise the millions of dollars they need to operate each year.
How can I get their help?
If you are a victim of crime, Victim Support may receive your details from the police and contact you directly. If this does not happen and you would like their help, then either:
- contact your local police station;
- look up ‘Victim Support’ in the white pages of your phone book;
- click through to their website directory to find the Victim Support Office near you ; or
- phone the Victim Support toll free NZ help line 0800 VICTIM(0800 842 846).
How much does it cost?
Victim Support provides their support services free of charge.
Link to Victim Support Website
The Victim Support website clearly outlines your rights as a victim (under the 2002 Victims’ Rights Act) and how you can exercise those rights. It outlines the services offered by Victim Support, provides useful resources to download, and links to relevant media releases, policy documents and submission papers to government.