The DCS Victim Services Unit
The Department for Correctional Services (DCS) recognises that victims of crime may wish to be informed of the offender/s’ progress whilst in the custody and supervision of the Department. For this reason DCS established the Victim Services Unit (VSU) to promote and advocate the rights and needs of victims of crime and to manage the controlled release of information to Registered Victims as prescribed in Sections 85 C and D of the Correctional Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 1996.
The DCS Victims Register
Established in 1995, the Victims Register was a revolution in the acknowledgement and administration of victim related services within the criminal justice system. The role and function of the Victims Register is to enact and promote the rights of victims in accordance with legislation requirements.
Through the Department’s VSU, Registered Victims are provided with timely and accurate information about prisoners’ movement through the correctional system, as well as assessing and responding to registered Victims’ individual needs through open and honest dialogue.
In accordance with DCS decision making processes, feedback may be sought from Registered Victims to enable DCS to make more informed decisions; and to manage potential risks whilst taking into consideration victims’ welfare needs, in conjunction with offenders’ rehabilitation needs.
Definition of a Victim of Crime
The Victims Rights Act 2001 defines a "victim" (in relation to an offence) as a person who suffers harm as a result of the commission of the offence (but does not include a person who was a party to the commission of the offence).
- "harm" means injury, damage or loss.
- "injury" means physical or mental injury, and includes pregnancy, mental shock and nervous shock.
If the person dies as a result of a crime, a person’s immediate family is also a victim of crime for the purpose of applying to register on the Department’s Victims of Crime Register (the Register).
Eligibility to Register as a Victim of Crime
In order to meet the criteria to register as a victim of crime; and to have your details placed on the Register, you will need to show:
- that you are a victim of a criminal offence; and
- that the person that you wish to register against is in prison in relation to the offence/s for which you are a victim; or
- that the person you wish to register against is under the supervision of DCS
What information is provided in relation to a Sentenced Prisoner?
Once registered, a victim of crime is eligible to receive information about a prisoner, as prescribed in Section 85D of the Correctional Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 1996.
Information that can be released includes:
- the correctional institution in which the prisoner is imprisoned;
- details of any transfer from one correctional institution to another;
- details of the sentence/s of imprisonment that the prisoner is liable to serve;
- the date on which and circumstances under which the prisoner was, is to be or is likely to be released from the correctional institution for any reason (for example, on bail, leave of absence, home detention, parole); and
- details of any escape from custody by the prisoner.
What information is provided in relation to an Offender serving a Bond or Community Service Order?
Once registered, a victim of crime is eligible to receive information about an offender serving a Bond or Community Service Order, as prescribed in Section 8 (2) of the Victims of Crime Act 2001. Information that can be released includes:
- if the offender was ordered to undertake community service – whether the offender completed the community service; and
- if the offender was subject to a bond – whether the conditions of the bond were complied with.
Who will have access to information on the Victims Register?
Access to information is limited to delegated staff at the Department’s VSU and Parole Board of South Australia; and any other DCS official with a genuine and essential need to have access.
Information is not available to prisoners, offenders or any other persons.
How to Register
Please complete and sign the appropriate Victim Registration Form. If you cannot complete all the details, please leave blank, or alternatively you can ring the Victim Services Unit for assistance. Please forward any supporting documents that may assist the Victim Services Unit in confirming your application – for example affidavits or restraining orders.
When the VSU staff receive your application, your details will be checked with South Australian Police records to confirm that you are the victim of the offence/s. The VSU staff will also advise the Parole Board of South Australia of your registration.
Once your registration is confirmed, the VSU staff will write to you confirming your registration. If we are unable to register you we will write to you to explain the reasons why you cannot be registered.
Registration is voluntary and not automatic; therefore, to be eligible to receive information, you must first apply to register.
If you have any special needs you would like to discuss please contact the VSU.
How to contact us
If you are unsure about the meaning or impact of information provided to you or if you wish to talk to our friendly staff, please do not hesitate to call us at the VSU either by:
Telephone: (08) 8226 9067 or (08) 8226 9704.
Mailing address: Victim Services Unit, GPO Box 1747, ADELAIDE 5001
Victims Service Charter - Our commitment
Government agencies within the criminal justice system have a responsibility to ensure that victims of crime are treated with compassion and respect; and where possible, minimise secondary victimisation in the administration and delivery of victim services. As the person/s directly affected by crime, victims have a right to expect support and access to criminal justice processes and government services.
The Department is in the process of developing Victims’ Service Charter that acknowledges this expectation, in addition to dealing with the psychological impact of crime on victims. The charter affirms DCS’ responsibility to victims’ rights and demonstrates the Department’s commitment and accountability to public safety and protection through its critical services to victims.
Providing feedback, a compliment or complaint
DCS regards feedback, compliments or complaints as a way of both assessing and improving our performance. The Department has complaint management process to ensure that any complaints are resolved promptly and satisfactorily and that our procedures are appropriate. We will investigate and try to resolve complaints:
- confidentially, and
Who to contact if you have any feedback, a compliment or complaint
If you have any feedback, a compliment or complaint about the Department’s services to victims of crime in relation to the Victims Charter, contact the person you have been dealing with, or that person's supervisor.
If you do not know who you have been dealing with you can contact the Victims Register direct on (08) 8226 9067 or (08) 8226 9704
via facsimile on (08) 8115 5554, via e-mail at DCS.Central@saugov.sa.gov.au or via mail to:
Policy and Stakeholder Services
GPO Box 1747
ADELAIDE SA 5001
We report on the operation of Victims’ Service Charter, including complaints received and the resolution of those complaints, in our annual report each year.