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Power: Bill Designed To Ease Financial Pressure On Victims

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Simon Power
Simon Power

A bill designed to ease the financial pressure on victims of crime attending coronial inquests and parole hearings received its second reading in Parliament today.

The Legal Services Amendment Bill amends the Legal Services Act 2000.

Justice Minister Simon Power said the bill would ensure that victims of crime involved in coronial inquests and parole hearings would not be subject to financial eligibility tests, or need to repay legal aid grants when they need to be represented by a lawyer.

"This Government realises that the needs of victims are of crucial importance.

"It's unacceptable that in the rare cases where victims of crime need legal representation at coronial inquests and parole hearings, they should have to deal with the stress of the possibility of repayments being required," Mr Power said.

"We are moving to ensure victims don't find themselves in situations like the one Karl Kuchenbecker's partner found herself in when she received a letter from the Legal Services Agency asking her to repay $19,000 in legal aid for the inquest into his death.

"Karl Kuchenbecker was murdered by Graeme Burton, and the letter re-victimised his partner at an already painful time."

Under the bill, the Legal Services Agency will be able to decide at any time during the proceedings not to recover legal aid debt.

"This will give victims increased certainty because it will no longer be necessary to wait until the end of proceedings to take this action."

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