Applications for financial assistance are determined by Tribunal members, who are also Magistrates or Judicial Registrars of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal consists of the Chief Magistrate of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and all other persons who hold the office of magistrate under section 7 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989, or acting magistrate under section 9 of that Act.
Chief Magistrate’s role
In addition to being a Tribunal member, the Chief Magistrate is responsible for the arrangement of the business of the Tribunal and may give directions in respect of its operating procedures and practices.
The Chief Magistrate may delegate to Judicial Registrars (from 1 July 2010), the Principal Registrar and registrars of the Tribunal certain powers under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996.
The role of a Tribunal Member
Tribunal members determine who is eligible to receive financial assistance from the Tribunal, and the nature of the financial assistance that they are entitled to, in accordance with the requirements of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996. Tribunal members are required to fulfil the objectives of the Act by awarding financial assistance that will assist a victim of crime in their recovery, and to acknowledge the victim and their experience.
Tribunal members have a lot of contact with registrars, providing guidance to them regarding the preparation of an application for financial assistance.
A Supervising Magistrate for the Tribunal is appointed by the Chief Magistrate. Magistrates Johanna Metcalf and Andrew Capell have jointly held this position since January 2014.
The role of the Supervising Magistrate includes liaison between the registry and tribunal members; encouraging consistent practices across regions; disseminating information about legislative and procedural changes within the Tribunal; chairing the Tribunal’s Coordinating Committee meetings; advising the Chief Magistrate on rules, practice directions and other issues relating to the Tribunal; liaising with the Victim Support Agency and victim support services; and participating in community education programs.
Judicial Registrars are independent judicial decision makers appointed by the Governor in Council to assist the court in both judicial and administrative functions. Judicial Registrars commenced work in the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal from 1 February 2012, following a delegation of powers by the Chief Magistrate. Initially a pilot programme commenced at Heidelberg, Ringwood and Melbourne court venues.
Due to the success of the pilot programme it was extended to all metropolitan, regional and rural courts in February 2013. There are currently ten Judicial Registrars in Victoria. The Judicial Registrars undertake Victims of Crime Assistance matters at all court venues they visit across Victoria allowing for efficient determination of applications.
Judicial Registrars can deal with applications under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act by primary and secondary victims except where there are allegations of sexual assault or family violence, or where the act of violence was not reported to police. Judicial Registrar’s cannot determine related victim applications. Judicial Registrar’s can also hear applications for an extension of time to lodge an application, interim orders, access to documents and variation of awards, as well as give directions.