Crime Claims Left Mired in Bureaucracy

Victims of crime have been frustrated by a compensation regime that is bureaucratic, costly and inefficient, resulting in a backlog of more than 20,000 claims – including one for a crime committed in the 1930s.

The bottleneck in the Victims Compensation Tribunal has forced the suspension of new claims. There is speculation in legal circles the state government will wind it up.

Resolution of a claim now takes an average of 30 months, and can stretch to four years or more.

More than 23,500 claims are awaiting a decision and a further 2100 are listed for hearing.

One lawyer who deals with the tribunal – where cases initially knocked back by claims assessors are heard – said he ”wouldn’t be surprised” if it were wound up.

People can wait years before being knocked back for compensation.

One applicant, who lost three teeth and sustained serious dental injuries in an assault, sought compensation for costs, including $20,000 in dental treatment. After a wait of more than two years, the case was dismissed because it did not meet the minimum compensation threshold determined by the act.

In another case that went to the District Court, a girl who was abused by her mother and stepfather before being placed in foster care in 2005 at the age of three, had a series of claims lodged on her behalf by a guardian.

Her claim was lodged in 2007. An assessor awarded ”S” compensation for some claims, and dismissed others, finding they were part of a single act of violence.

The decision was appealed to the tribunal in 2008, and the District Court in July 2009. The appeal was upheld in the District Court, the tribunal’s decision overturned and the case sent back for a new decision. The process took more than two years.

A review of the 26-year-old tribunal was finished last July but the government is yet to announce its response.

Article Source: www.smh.com.au

About BPC Lawyers: BPC offers legal services such as workers compensation, motor accident compensation and claims for public liability. Beilby Poulden Costello has its origins in a legal practice started by Barry Beilby in 1975.