If you or somebody you know has suffered family violence, then financial assistance may be available through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).
One of the primary issues faced by victims of family violence is obtaining financial assistance to secure their own safety and that of their children or other family members.
The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic) provides the framework for assisting victims who suffer loss due to an ‘act of violence’ which includes family violence. Eligible victims may claim financial assistance to help them to relocate, set up a new home and take out security measures such as installing alarms or changing locks.
Our lawyers have a sound understanding of VOCAT processes and have represented and assisted many victims of family violence to pursue their rights to financial assistance.
What is family violence?
Family violence, also referred to as domestic violence, is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member or property, that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or wellbeing. Family violence includes:
- Behaviour by a person towards a family member that is:
- Physically or sexually abusive;
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive;
- Economically abusive;
- Threatening or coercive;
- Behaviour that controls or dominates a family member or causes that person to feel fear for his or her own safety or the safety of another person;
- Behaviour that causes a child to hear or witness or be exposed to family violence.
Children may be exposed to family violence when they overhear threats towards other family members, witness or hear an assault of another family member, give assistance and comfort to a family member after an assault, or witness the attendance of emergency officers (police, ambulance) to an incident resulting from family violence.
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’.
Am I eligible to claim financial assistance through VOCAT?
A person who has suffered pain or financial loss as a result of certain criminal acts that have occurred in Victoria may be entitled to claim financial assistance. This includes:
- 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 injured as a result of being present at the scene of an act of violence and having witnessed the violent act 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 however it is important that the offence is reported to the police before pursuing an application.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of family violence it is important to obtain early legal advice to ensure all avenues for financial assistance are explored.
If you fear for your own safety or the safety of your loved ones, we can also assist in obtaining an intervention order. See our separate page on ‘Intervention Orders’.
When you consult with our lawyers, your matter will be treated with discretion and sensitivity. We acknowledge that money cannot replace the physical or emotional pain suffered, however we can assist you in obtaining financial support and legal protection to help you move forward.