15th International Symposium of the World Society Victimology

Michael O'Connell, Commissioner for Victims' Rights and Secretary-General of the World Society of Victimology

ADDRESS: Challenging Orthodoxies: Victimology, victims’ rights and victim assistance

What is Victimology? Proposed as an science to focus on victimals rather than criminals, who are the focus of criminology, has Victimology really (after more than 70 years) attained the status of a science. If so, what is its scope? Do victims have rights? 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power; yet three decades since that Declaration has the standing of victims in criminal justice truly improved? Are victim assistance programmes effective? Studies in Germany and the USA reveal a mismatch between victims’ needs and the victim assistance offered; and, some question whether the aims of such assistance (including state-funded compensation) are being achieved. Is a new approach to victim assistance required?

Michael O’Connell, Commissioner for Victims’ Rights in South Australia, also lectures and writes on Victimology and Criminal Justice locally and internationally. Michael was previously appointed as South Australia’s first Victims of Crime Coordinator and inaugural Victim Impact Statement Coordinator; and, served for over 20 years as a police officer. He is a life member, and since 2012 the Secretary-General, of the World Society of Victimology. In 1995 he was awarded the Australian Police Medal for his victimological work; in 2003 he was a finalist in Australian of the Year 2004 (South Australia); and in 2010 Victim Support Australasia presented him with its national award for advancing Victimology and promoting victims’ rights.