Media release: Complaints rise & over $2million paid to victims of crime: annual report

Complaints to the ACT Human Rights Commission are up by almost 10 per cent, according to the Commission’s 2018-2019 annual report, released today.

ACT Human Rights Commission President Dr Helen Watchirs said: “We are assisting more Canberrans.

“The Commission has continued to expand its frontline services to complainants, victims of crime and people experiencing vulnerability.

“Commissioners and staff work hard, delivering training and informing people about our services, in more than 100 public activities and events.

Highlights from this reporting period include:

  • The percentage of complaints received rose almost 10 per cent compared to last year; and 35 per cent compared to 2016-17.
  • The number of complaints about children and young people doubled.  
  • Complaints about health services in the ACT rose by almost eight per cent on last year.
  • There was an increase in both the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients making complaints; and applying for financial assistance scheme (FAS) payments as victims of crime.
    • Complaints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, handled by the Discrimination, Health Services, Disability and Community Services Commissioner rose to 54 in 2018-2019 (up from 40 in 2017-2018; and nine in 2016-2017).
    • Fifteen per cent of FAS applications received in 2018-19 were from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants, up from 10 per cent in 2017-18.
  • 88 per cent of people who completed a Commission survey at the closure of a complaint said the process was fair, accessible and understandable.
  • The victim services team under the Victims of Crime Commissioner helped almost 1700 people affected by crime:
    • 453 new FAS applications were received
    • $2.56 million in FAS payments were disbursed to over 350 Canberrans, including $2.2 million paid to victims in recognition of the harm cause by violent crime 
    • the court support volunteer program provided over 250 hours of court support to almost 100 clients. 
  • The Public Advocate advocated for and/or monitored the situation of more than 1300 Canberrans

“We provided over 50 comments on Cabinet submissions, pieces of legal advice or submissions to hearings. Through this work, we regularly advise government and other bodies on legal issues relevant to human rights; we review the effect of ACT laws, policies and practices on human rights; and remind authorities of their human rights obligations.

“This year, we also launched the Commission’s first cultural safety charter. With this charter, we have committed to providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a safe environment in which their cultural rights and spiritual values are accepted.” The HRC annual report (PDF 3MB) is available now.