Proactive versus reactive victims’ rights legislation: Findings from victim interviews

Rhiannon Davies

University of Tasmania Faculty of

In South Australia and Tasmania, under their victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter respectively, information about the conduct of a trial, including the progress of investigation, the laying of charges, and the acceptance of a guilty plea, is only provided to victims upon the victim’s request. In contrast, under the proactive victims’ rights legislation that operates in the ACT and Victoria, the obligation to provide victims with information about the progress of a matter lies with the DPP.

This paper discusses key findings from an empirical study of victim impact statement and sentencing procedures from the perspective of victims of sexual offending across the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Victim interviews reveal that the operation of the reactive victims’ rights legislation and victims’ rights charter in South Australia and Tasmania can cause significant issues arising from the lack of information actively provided to victims throughout the trial process.


Rhiannon is a lawyer and former social worker with an interest in socio-legal research. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania’s School of Law. Her thesis explores judicial acknowledgement of victims and their impact statements at sentencing in sex offence cases.