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Friday, October 16

Families of homicide victims benefit from initiatives

Families of homicide victims will receive additional assistance thanks to initiatives for victims of serious crime announced today by Justice Minister Simon Power.

Four of the eight initiatives, to be funded from revenue generated by the Offender Levy, focus on families of homicide victims.

"The need for further support for families of homicide victims has been raised a number of times by organisations with close relationships with these victims," Mr Power said.

Recent cases have illustrated the financial and emotional impact that homicide has on families. A lack of access to appropriate entitlements and services can only add to families' distress.

"The first initiative will provide up to $4,500 to families of homicide victims to help pay for costs associated with their family member's funeral, on top of around $5,500 they can currently claim from ACC for funeral costs," Mr Power said.

This initiative will be implemented in November 2009.

The second initiative is a new High Court attendance grant for families of homicide victims, which will support up to five adult family members of a homicide victim to attend High Court proceedings at a rate of $124 per day, per person.

The new grant will be implemented in January 2010 and will be administered by Victim Support.

A new homicide support service will also be established to provide practical and emotional support to families - from the discovery of the homicide, through the court process and beyond. This service will ensure that families of homicide victims have a central point of contact during their interaction with the justice sector, and a reliable ongoing source of support and advice.

The homicide support service will build on and strengthen Victim Support's existing volunteer homicide support network. This initiative will be rolled out in July 2010.

The fourth initiative expands the existing discretionary grant for families of homicide victims suffering financial difficulties. This initiative will be implemented in November 2009.

Currently, up to $1,500 per family is available. This will be increased to a maximum of $5,000 and the eligibility criteria will be expanded.

The Government anticipates that approximately 60 - 65 families per year will benefit from these new initiatives.