Victims of violent crime can seek financial assistance for medical injuries, pain and suffering and loss of earnings caused by the offence. Victims may apply for financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT). The purpose of VOCAT is to assist the victim’s recovery. Victims can also seek compensation in the criminal court were the offender is sentenced.
Applications for compensation at VOCAT are free. This means all legal and other costs are paid by VOCAT with no cost to the applicant.
Types of Victims
Not only primary victims are entitled to assistance. Depending on your circumstances you may also be entitled to financial assistance if you are related or close to the primary victim or deceased person. If you are a spouse or a relative of the victim you may also be eligible for assistance and compensation. Witnesses of violent crime may also apply for assistance.
For the purposes of Victims of Crimes Assistance there are three categories of victims:
- Primary Victims
A primary victim is a person who is directly injured or dies as a direct result of an offence. Included are those injured trying to prevent a violent crime or trying to aid or rescue a victim.
- Secondary Victims
A person who is adversely effected by witnessing or becoming aware of a violent crime may also apply for financial assistance.
- Related Victims
Related victims with an ‘intimate personal relationship’ with the primary victim or deceased may also be eligible for financial assistance. Included are relatives such as children, spouses and romantic partners.
VOCAT can provide financial assistance for pain and suffering and assist with counselling and matters such as: medical expenses, loss of earnings, and funeral costs. VOCAT can award up to $100,000 for death and up to $60,000 for serious injury. Up to $20,000 may be awarded for loss of income.
Special financial assistance in the form of a lump sum payment can be awarded for the psychological and physical injury, and the pain and suffering of the Victim.
You may also be entitled to compensation if the identity of the offender is unknown.
Compensation in Court
Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, and depending on the offender’s financial situation, you may also be entitled to significant compensation from the court where the offender was sentenced.
Victims of crime may also sue offenders in the civil courts for wrongful death or for physical and psychological injury, pain and suffering, and financial loss.
If a victim is successful in court, the judge has the power to grant substantially higher financial compensation than VOCAT.
Which crimes can be compensated?
Potentially, all violent crimes can be compensated. These include, among others: stalking, assault, aggravated assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, armed robbery, aggravated burglary, child abuse, child sexual abuse, indecent assault, breaking and entering, threats to commit murder, manslaughter, murder, dangerous driving, breach of a Family Violence Order, and other violent crimes.
Prisoners injured while in jail, remand or other forms of custody are also encouraged to apply for financial assistance. However, a victim’s criminal record must be taken into consideration by VOCAT even if a prisoner’s prior criminal history is unrelated to the offence. This means that prisoners while entitled to apply to VOCAT, can expect a reduction in financial assistance.
Where to now?
We have the skill and experience to guide you through the legal process to ensure the best possible outcome. We can also appear in person for you at VOCAT. Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, we can also advise on the prospects of taking your matter to Court.
Applications for compensation at VOCAT are free.
If you have been a victim of violent crime, please email or call our office for a consultation:
(03) 9534 3002 or 1300 057 056