IN AN unassuming building in the heart of the CBD, a group of men and women work diligently to speak up for victims of violent crimes.
These people are there to offer a guiding arm, a good ear and even a sympathetic shoulder for those who have experienced violent crimes, including family violence.
A free service, Centacare’s Victims Assistance and Counselling Program (VACP) is a unique victim-specific program offering support, information about the many services and options available, as well as practical assistance.
VACP also provides support and assistance in writing victim impact statements for court, information about how to navigate the court system, assistance in putting victims on the Victims Register which gives information about their offender’s parole or release, helping to apply for financial assistance through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.
VACP Community Services Manager Heather Mather said the program assists victims of violent crime on their journey toward recovery, including those who have suffered family violence.
“As well as needing an understanding of the legal processes, people need to be heard. Assisting victims in writing their victim impact statement ensures the victims’ voices are able to be heard,” Ms Mather said.
Sixty-two per cent of clients seen by VACP in the last financial year were females, including children.
About 40 per cent of the clients in that same year were referred to the program as a result of family violence.
Thirty per cent of these referrals are police-instigated. These figures, according to Ms Mather, are slightly up on previous years.
“Each case is unique ... some (clients) value counselling and advice on services, while others may need assistance to feel safe in their own environment,” Ms Mather said.
“Not all victims (of violent crimes) are aware of the range of specific victims supports that are available,” Ms Mather said.
As well as providing practical support and advice, VACP is also able to provide assistance to families to create positive experiences and happy memories at a time of trauma and upheaval in their lives.
“It may be as simple as a trip to the zoo, the footy or an outing to the movies that may offer respite for a short time,” Ms Mather said.