If you or somebody in your family has suffered injury or loss as a victim of a violent crime, then financial assistance may be available through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT). Applicants may be reimbursed for expenses outlaid or likely to be incurred in the future as a result of the crime, to assist in their recovery.
Our lawyers have a sound understanding of VOCAT processes and have assisted many victims to pursue their rights to obtain financial assistance. Our experienced team will handle your matter with compassion, respect and understanding.
Who is eligible to claim through VOCAT?
A person who has suffered injury or financial loss as a result of certain criminal acts that have occurred in Victoria may be entitled to claim. The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic) covers:
- Primary victims – those directly injured or killed by an act of violence committed against that person including those injured or killed as a result of trying to arrest somebody or prevent the commission of an act of violence or assist or rescue a victim.
- Secondary victims – those directly injured as a result of witnessing an act of violence or whilst attempting to assist a primary victim, or the parent or guardian (who need not have witnessed the act) of a minor who is a primary victim.
- Related victims – a dependant, close family member or person who had a close intimate relationship with a primary victim who dies as a result of an act of violence.
A claim may be lodged irrespective of whether the perpetrator has been arrested, charged and / or convicted of the offence.
The type of criminal acts covered by the financial assistance scheme include acts of violence such as physical and sexual assault, armed and aggravated robbery, sexual abuse and family violence. For more information, please visit our separate pages on ‘Family Violence’, ‘Assault’ and ‘Sexual Abuse’.
How is financial assistance calculated?
Financial assistance is calculated by reference to the nature and circumstances of the crime and whether the applicant is a primary, secondary or related victim. Compensation is paid as a reimbursement for expenses incurred, likely to be incurred, and / or for loss of earnings because of the criminal act. In some cases, a primary victim will be entitled to a special financial assistance payment.
A primary victim may be awarded up to $60,000 plus special financial assistance, if applicable. The $60,000 may be made up of:
- Loss of earnings (up to $20,000);
- Medical, hospital and ambulance expenses;
- Surgery, plastic surgery and related expenses;
- Physiotherapy, chiropractic and other similar treatments;
- Psychology, psychiatry and counselling services;
- Security expenses;
- Damage to clothing.
- Special financial assistance – a cash payment of up to $10,000 for primary victims against whom a specified category of an act of violence has been committed and who have suffered a significant adverse effect. A ‘significant adverse effect’ is ‘any grief, distress, trauma or injury experienced or suffered by the victim as a direct result of the act of violence’.
- Other assistance – in exceptional circumstances to assist in the victim’s recovery such as improved security, self-defence lessons and rehabilitative treatment.
A secondary victim may be awarded up to $50,000 comprising expenses actually or reasonably likely to be incurred for:
- Counselling services;
- Medical expenses; and
- In exceptional circumstances, up to $20,000 for loss of earnings.
A total cumulative amount of $100,000 may be awarded to all related victims of any one primary victim. Funeral expenses paid following the death of a primary victim are also recoverable but are deducted from the amount awarded.
Victims of violence may have more than one avenue when seeking financial assistance or compensation for their loss or injury. It is therefore important to obtain early legal advice to ensure your rights are fully exhausted and to safeguard against any time limitations. We acknowledge that money cannot replace the physical or emotional pain suffered by a victim however we can assist you by obtaining financial support to help you move forward.