Victims of crime in the Kimberley are receiving professional care and counselling with the establishment of a new Victim Support Service in Broome.
Assisting Justice Minister Kevin Minson officially launched the service, which caters to the whole of the Kimberley region, at a ceremony at the Broome Courthouse today.
Mr Minson said the services, which began operations in August, had already come to the assistance of 27 people including the victims of assault, sexual assault, robbery and the relatives of a homicide victim.
The Victim Support Services offers free and confidential information to the victims of crime on a wide range of issues including the status of police investigations, court proceedings and compensation.
It also offers professional emotional support to victims through counselling, court support, assistance with the preparation of victim impact statements and referrals to other services.
"Historically, victims have been the forgotten people of the criminal justice system," Mr Minson said.
"This is not good enough. Victims have a right to freedom from fear, intimidation, harassment and degradation. They have a right to have their privacy preserved and to have their side of the story put to the courts.
"The State Government has moved to safeguard these rights and a central plank of its law and order policy has always been the recognition of the needs and rights of victims of crime in the criminal justice system."
Mr Minson said the establishment of a Broome VSS office was a significant advance in Ministry of Justice plans to extend victim services throughout Western Australia.
The Marnja Jarndu Women's Refuge group was awarded the contract to operate the Victim Support Services which is coordinated by Vanessa Wells.
Mr Minson said VSS work complemented the group's existing role in the community which focussed on helping victims of domestic violence.
"It is well known that offences can have serious effects on victims of crime, particularly violent crime," he said.
"These effects range from the immediate consequences of the offence - physical injury, shock, loss of property, time off work and financial losses to intrusions into a victim's personal life producing changes in relationships with family, neighbours, friends or work colleagues."
The VSS operates in Perth, Bunbury, Albany, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland and Northam.
Media contact: Caroline Lacy 015 083 526.