New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman
‘Nick’s Law’ To Support Victims’ Families
Victor P Taffa
Close family members of people murdered in attacks by drivers of motor vehicles in New South Wales will soon have access to support similar to those made available to family members of murder victims killed by other means, under legislation introduced into the Parliament today.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the murder of Nicholas McEvoy, who was deliberately run over by the driver of a van, highlighted a gap in appropriate support under the Victims Support Scheme (VSS) for some families of victims killed intentionally by drivers in motor vehicles.
“I thank the McEvoy family for bringing to my attention a loophole in the law that meant some families were worse off just because of a difference in the murder weapon. Their advocacy means that gap in the VSS will be closed. As a result of their actions, they have saved other families from the additional trauma they faced after Nick’s tragic death.” Attorney General Speakman said.
While families of motor vehicle homicide victims can access free counselling under the VSS, they are presently not eligible for financial support, on the basis that incidents involving motor vehicles are covered under the Motor Accidents Scheme.
However, only financially dependent relatives are eligible for compensation under that scheme.
‘Nick’s Law’ will amend the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 so that immediate, nondependent family members can receive the same recognition and supports as equivalent family members of homicide victims killed using weapons other than a motor vehicle.
Reforms will enable relatives of murdered victims to apply for:
- Up to $5,000 to cover urgent expenses that were required to secure their safety, health or wellbeing;
- Up to $5,000 to cover justice-related expenses associated with related criminal or coronial proceedings;
- Recognition payment of $15,000 for a financially dependent family victim or $7,500 for a financially non-dependent parent, step-parent or guardian.
Dependent relatives will be able to seek a top-up payment from the VSS, once their compensation claim under the Motor Accidents Scheme has been determined, but only if they are awarded less than they are entitled to under the VSS.
“While these changes can’t ease the pain of losing a loved one, they will provide much-needed help in dealing with difficulties that arise from their death.” Attorney General Speakman said.