University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 211-249, 2011
40 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 23 Jan 2012
Date Written: December 15, 2011
There is growing recognition of the communicative, therapeutic and other social benefits attached to Victim Impact Statements (VISs). This article examines the use of VISs in sentencing child sexual assault offenders in Australia. Analysis of a modest sample of 17 VISs extracted from the files of the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is utilised in this discussion to explore the potential use and value of VISs as a medium for victims of child sexual assault to articulate the impacts of their victimisation to the court. This article argues that despite the promise of VISs as a communicative and restorative tool for victims and as a vehicle for the pursuit of other important criminal justice goals, a review of the legal and procedural framework for reception of VISs in child sexual assault cases, reveals that the potential utility of VISs is undermined in practice in several ways, including by evidentiary barriers and restrictive judicial interpretations of the law that have limited the use of such statements by sentencing courts.
Keywords: victim, child, sexual, assault, harm, participation
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Shackel, Rita, Victim Impact Statements in Child Sexual Assault Cases: A Restorative Role or Restrained Rhetoric? (December 15, 2011). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 211-249, 2011; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/101. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1973375