Victoria’s new commissioner for victims of crime Greg Davies says he wants a constructive relationship with the public service to ensure the best assistance for victims.
“It’s not about taking a razor to the public service,” he told The Mandarin, “it’s about assisting public servants to provide the best possible product for victims of crime.”
The Victorian government announced yesterday that Davies, a former head of the state’s police union, would be the its first commissioner for victims of crime. It follows the creation of equivalent positions in Western Australia and New South Wales in 2013.
Davies describes his role as being “to report to the government on what improvements can or should be made” for victims, stating it will “probably be a 60-40 split” between working with internal and external stakeholders such as police and victims’ groups. The job, he says, is about asking questions like “is it being done as well as it could be? If it is that’s great; are there other areas government needs to look at?”
The position is by statutory appointment, reporting to Attorney-General Robert Clark. So how much independence will he have?
“It is an independent position,” he responded. “My reputation is that I’m not about to go quietly if something’s wrong, I’ll be vocal about that. If I thought it was going to be a position where I was going to make recommendations that would be dismissed out of hand, I wouldn’t have taken it.” He says he’s been given “free rein” to talk to the media.
But Davies emphasises that he plans to work together with bureaucrats to improve the access to information and services available to victims. “It’s important from a public service perspective to understand I’m certainly not in the business of coming along and announcing sweeping changes,” he said.
“What I’m tasked to do is have a look at the provision of victims’ services and speak to victims’ groups about whether services are being provided in a timely and appropriate way.”
Davies joined Victoria Police in February 1977, where he gained broad experience of operational policing in both metropolitan Melbourne and country Victoria. After rising to senior sergeant he joined the Police Association in 2002 where he served as a legal manager. He became Police Association secretary in 2009, retiring in April this year.
In a statement, Robert Clark praised “the vast experience and knowledge of all aspects of the justice system that Mr Davies brings”:
“As commissioner, Greg Davies’ role will be to ensure that the rights and needs of victims are recognised and respected across all government agencies, support services are well co-ordinated and effectively directed, and victims are readily able to find or be put in touch with the most appropriate support and advice.
“The commissioner will also be an advocate for the interests of victims of crime in their dealings with government agencies, and provide advice on how the justice system can be further improved to meet the needs of victims.”