By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A victims-of-crime forum could become a yearly event at City of Casey.
A successful event with victims as well as police and community safety representatives was staged at the civic centre in Narre Warren on Sunday 8 October.
A moving presentation was given by Susy Ratcliffe of Leave A Light On organisation, which represents families with missing loved ones.
It was formed in memory of Ms Ratcliffe’s older sister Joanne, who disappeared with another girl after a football game in Adelaide in 1973.
Ms Ratcliffe wasn’t born at the time, but grew up knowing her parents’ anguish. Every night, her parents would leave an outside light on, in the hope that Joanne would return.
She remains missing, with no answers as to what happened to her.
Forum organiser Janine Greening, of Cranbourne, has been fighting for victims’ rights since her 75-year-old mother was bashed and strangled by two juvenile intruders in her own home 17 years ago.
The offenders, now in their thirties, still can’t be legally identified.
Stricter consequences should apply to juveniles committing the most serious crimes, she said.
“The only way is to get the laws changed.
“If they’re not sorry for it, they can’t be rehabilitated. They should name and shame them.
“There’s got to be some consequences,” she said.
She fumes at the gang of young offenders who swamped Casey Central shopping centre recently. They did it because in one of their words, “they can”, she said.
Other speakers included Betul Tuna, who spoke out on the crime of child brides, challenging lawmakers to regard it as paedophilia.
State Opposition front-bencher Gordon Rich-Phillips, Acting Inspector Jacqueline Poida of Victoria Police and Rob Ward of Casey Neighbourhood Watch were among the other presenters.
There were also speakers from Victims of Crime Victoria, Crime Stoppers Victoria, Healing Wounds Together, the Family Law court and Hope Organisation.
Cr Amanda Stapledon said it was an “uplifting” event, with amazing stories and advice from victims and groups.
It should become a regular fixture for the scores of victims concerned about law-and-order in Casey, she said.
“It showed that first we should speak to the victims of crime – they have a powerful story to tell.
“As councillors, we’re better informed to speak to law-makers to make sure their voices are being heard.”
There was a common feeling among victims that they were being bypassed by lawmakers and the justice system.
There was also a need for stricter penalties to deter people from the most serious crimes.
Perpetrators seemed to get better support and protection than their victims.
“It really seems the system is upside-down.”