More vulnerable people and victims of crime assisted, complaints up

The ACT Human Rights Commission has assisted more Canberrans than ever before, with a 31%  increase in clients registered through the Victims Services Scheme and an increase in complaints about discrimination and health services.

These figures are contained in the Commission’s 2019-20 Annual Report, released today.  

ACT Human Rights Commission President Dr Helen Watchirs said: “Our annual report shows that our services and our work continues to grow in complexity and volume.”

The report includes key service statistics from the year:

  • Victim Support ACT (VSACT) provided over 2150 clients with case coordination, advice, information, counselling, court support or justice advocacy services, a 27% increase on last year.
    • VSACT also received over 500 new applications for financial assistance, a 13% increase on last year.
    • VSACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program assisted 186 clients, a 47% increase on last year; and the multicultural outreach program assisted over 200 clients from 70 countries.
  • The Commission handled over 1,600 enquiries and over 800 complaints. Complaints about discrimination rose by 25%; and complaints about health services by 27%. 
  • The Commission started ACT’s first Intermediary Program. In six months, the program assisted over 40 vulnerable witnesses and victims.
  • Over 2,250 people were brought to the attention of the Public Advocate, and provided with advocacy and/or monitoring services.  
  • Through the Children and Young People Commissioner, over 700 children and young people were empowered to share their views about issues impacting them.

“From client feedback, we know that over 80 per cent of people who took part in a conciliation with the Commission said the process was fair, accessible and understandable,” Discrimination, Health Services, Disability and Community Services Commissioner, Karen Toohey said.

“In addition to the thousands of Canberrans assisted through our services, we continued to provide strong and independent advice to the ACT Government, MLAs and others,’ Dr Watchirs said.

“This pivotal work, including 89 written pieces of legal advice, comments and submissions, helped ensure that ACT laws and policies are compatible with human rights, protecting the rights of all Canberrans,” Dr Watchirs said.

“Our legal policy focus in 2019-20 has been in four areas: raising the age of criminal responsibility; highlighting the need for external review of care and protection decisions; enhanced protection of older people and people with a  disability through a new complaint jurisdiction for abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable Canberrans; and the new Charter of Rights for Victims of Crime. ”

Human Rights Commission Annual Report 2019-20 (PDF 8.6 MB) (Word 6.8 MB)