Recognition, reconnection, and renewal

AuthorKathleen Daly,Robyn L Holder
Publication Date01 Jan 2018
Recognition, reconnection,
and renewal: The meaning
of money to sexual assault
Robyn L Holder
Griffith University, Australia
Kathleen Daly
Griffith University, Australia
Money as recompense for crime is variously described as making victims whole, restoring them to
their pre-victimisation status, recognising the harm done, and facilitating closure and healing. This
article explores the meaning of money to survivors of sexual victimisation and its place in their
lives. Drawing on interviews with 20 female and male victims who applied for financial assistance to
a state-administered scheme in Australia, we examine their motivations for applying, their
reflections on the money received, and how they spent it. Claimants can receive two types of
money in the overall financial assistance award: one for eligible expenses (or ‘economic loss’) and
another, the ‘special assistance’ payment (for ‘non-economic loss’ or what is termed ‘pain and
suffering’), the latter of which they can spend in any way they wish. Most survivors applied for
financial assistance because they required financial help, but upon receiving the ‘special assistance’
payment, half said it meant acknowledgement by others. They spent this money on practical things,
alone or in combination with items related to self-renewal and savings. In jurisdictions having a
payment for ‘pain and suffering’, we argue that its meaning is better conveyed to survivors as
symbolic recognition of the wrong rather than a token recognition of the harm or injuries. If the
aim of a scheme is victim recovery, emphasis should be placed on activities that enable survivors to
reconnect with others and rebuild the self.
Victims, sexual victimisation, money, recognition, justice, recovery
Corresponding author:
Robyn Holder, Griffith Criminology Institute, Mt Gravatt Campus, Griffith University, 176 Messines Ridge Road,
Mt Gravatt, Queensland 4122, Australia.
International Review of Victimology
2018, Vol. 24(1) 25–46
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/0269758017739372
A material or monetised response to victims of wrongdoing has a long history in human society
(Schafer, 1970; Wolfgang, 1965). In most liberal democratic countries today, one mechanism for
recompense is state-based schemes, variously termed ‘criminal injuries compensation’ (CIC) or
‘financial assistance’, which are available to violent crime victims. A robust literature has
considered the strengths and limits of these schemes (e.g. Duff, 1998; Miers, 2014a, 2014b),
but empirical evidence is sparse on survivors’
experiences and perspectives. We analyse inter-
views with 20 female and male victims of sexual violence, who sought financial assistance from
a state-based scheme in Queensland, to address the following research questions: What are
survivors’ motives in applying? What is the meaning of the money? Does the amount matter?
What is the place of receiving the money in their lives? The interviews are part of a larger study
that examines decision-making processes and outcomes in a state-based scheme in Queensland,
This paper has four parts. The first part r eviews the three bodies of work: (1) state -based
schemes for crime victims and their policy basis; (2) the meanings of money for victims pursuing
civil and redress scheme claims, and those related to terrorism and war-related crimes; and (3)
empirical studies of victims and state-based schemes. The second part presents the study’s method
and the broader context of Queensland’s financial assistance scheme. Here we compare the profile
of the 20 interviewees with a larger dataset of Queensland financial assistance cases. The third part
presents the interviews, and the fourth discusses the key findings, study limitations, and
Three bodies of literature
State-based schemes: a brief history
The first country to establish a state-based scheme for violent crime was New Zealand (1963)
followed by Great Britain (1964)
and the US (California in 1965), and then Australia and Canada
(both in 1967).
Australian legislation was first enacted in New South Wales (NSW, 1967), then in
Queensland (1968) and South Australia (1969). By 1983, all Australian states and territories had
such schemes.
In Australia, like other countries, early CIC schemes drew upon tort law, a ‘corrective justice’
mechanism that aims to restore a victim to a pre-victimisation status (Duff, 1998; Miers, 2014a).
In tort law, what is called ‘damages’ (money payments) can be made for losses that are economic
(property damage or loss, medical costs, loss of earnings, among others) and non-economic
(typically termed ‘pain and suffering’). Early CIC schemes duplicated, but with reduced monetary
amounts, the civil law’s dual focus on economic and non-economic loss. Using Miers’ terms
(2014a: 119), these early schemes were a ‘civil remedy surrogate’ as compared to those schemes
having a ‘welfare function’ (such as in the US) that award less money, paying only the ‘“hard”
costs of crime’ such as medical expenses (Miers, 2014a: 121).
During the 1990s in Australia, initial reform of the schemes began. By 2015, significant change
had been introduced in four of eight jurisdictions: state-based schemes were made more accessible
to a larger number of victims, and payments were termed ‘financial assistance’ not ‘compensa-
Financial assistance has two components: (1) reimbursement for eligible expenses incurred
or likely to be incurred as a result of injuries arising from a violent offence; and (2) a capped sum
that recognises the seriousness of the offence, with the latter replacing the older ‘pain and
26 International Review of Victimology 24(1)

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