Victims of Crime NT Inc. (formerly known as VOCAL) was formed in 1995 by a group of concerned citizens who felt that rights of offenders were receiving greater consideration than the rights of victims, and that there were no services to provide victims with immediate and ongoing support to recover from their experience of trauma. The organisation incorporated as a community organisation in 1996 and was granted government funding to operate an office manned by volunteers. In 1998 a full-time Executive Officer was appointed and the Association began to focus on victim advocacy as well as continuing to walk alongside victims in their journey of recovery.
Over the next decade the Association actively and successfully campaigned for the introduction of legislation to assist victims of crime. In 2006 the Northern Territory Government passed the Victims of Crime Rights and Services Act and the Victims of Crime Assistance Act which introduced a statutory compensation scheme for victims of violent crime, created a Ministerial Advisory Committee (Crime Victims Advisory Committee) and introduced the Northern Territory Charter of Victims Rights.
The Association continued to be funded by government to coordinate a small team of volunteers who worked closely with the NT Police to provide crisis intervention and referral services for victims, and also added a Court Support Service. Our 24 hour helpline was another edition to make services available out of hours. During this time many other support agencies were also established to support victims in particular circumstances or from particular backgrounds.
In 2015 VoCNT added a new program with funding from the Attorney General and Justice Department. Safe At Home provided a response to property crime through re-secure funding, home security assessment and improvements, and remote projects for greater community safety. Since then, VoCNT has added another victim support program and works alongside victims who participate in youth justice conferencing so their voices may be heard in the justice process.
Today we have 12 staff working across the Northern Territory, a volunteer board to govern the organisation, and a team of dedicated volunteers who assist in daily operations and ensure our after-hours support line remains available. VoCNT remains committed to listening and responding to the needs of victims of crime by developing programs and providing specialist perspective on the impact of government decisions on people who have suffered harm through crime.
VoCNT now works in partnership with funding from a number of Northern Territory Government agencies – Attorney General and Justice, Correctional Services, Territory Families, and the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation. Our strong relationship with NT Police is vital in terms of referring victims for support.