Slain mother’s family wins $450k compo payout from killer
Slain Whyalla mother Dianne Rogan's family has been awarded $450,000 from her killer's estate - almost 10 times what they received from the Victims of Crime compensation fund.
The glaring disparity has prompted calls to review the system, including formulas used to assess losses.
Law Society president Amy Nikolovski said while the maximum state compensation was doubled from $50,000 to $100,000 in 2015, "most victims will not receive anywhere near the maximum payout".
Ms Nikolovski said the Victims of Crime fund held more than $300 million and was "growing by tens of millions of dollars each year".
"It can easily afford to provide compensation that more appropriately recognises the trauma suffered by victims," she said.
"The fund will continue to grow and victims will receive far less than they deserve unless there is a reform to the scheme."
Former Supreme Court judge John Sulan found Brougham not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and jailed him for 15 years.
Mrs Rogan's husband Kevin was awarded $300,000 and their adult children Jack and Rebecca $75,000 each under a District Court civil claim against Brougham for causing her wrongful death.
The civil damages far outstripped state compensation of $25,091 to Mr Rogan and $11,994 and $9,094 to Jack and Rebecca respectively.
Mr Rogan declined to comment on the civil case, which added to the family's ordeal after their dismay at the outcome of the criminal case.
Former Victims' Rights commissioner Michael O'Connell said many victims and families of victims could not afford to risk launching civil action against the perpetrators.
"We correctly spend millions on rehabilitating offenders … however, equity and equality demand proper investment in rehabilitating the victims of crime," Mr O'Connell said.
Mr O'Connell called on the State Government to review the complicated formula used to calculate victims' compensation, which they often saw as "an insensitive valuation on the life of their loved one."
Mr O'Connell said it would be "abhorrent" if the State Government invoked laws to recoup the state payouts to the Rogan family in light of the civil damages.
"After I told several people this, they exclaimed 'No way, that's unfair'. Our scheme is applauded but also criticised and often deservedly," he said.
Acting Victims' Rights Commissioner Sarah Fletcher declined to comment on the Rogan case but conceded civil cases were "lengthy, uncertain and traumatic".
"Where offenders have the capacity to compensate their victims, they should be held accountable," Ms Fletcher said.
"The state-funded scheme provides compensation when an offender doesn't have the means to pay, or when a victim doesn't have the means or wish to pursue a civil claim."
Ms Fletcher said lump sum payouts were "one form of support, albeit an important one". "While we would not be able to reverse a decision, we would be interested in hearing from victims if they feel a state-funded payment has not been sufficient to help us determine whether there is an issue here that needs to be determined," she said.
Ms Nikolovski said that, while any victim or family could launch civil proceedings, the crucial issue was whether the offender had means to pay.
"If the offender has no assets, a judgment against them would be a hollow outcome in the sense that they cannot make payment," she said.