If you have suffered from physical or psychological harm as a result of a crime in Victoria;
You may be entitled to Victims of Crime Assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal as a primary victim.
You must show the following:
That you have been the victim of an act of violence punishable by imprisonment.
That you have reported this crime to the Police and assisted them with their enquiries.
That you have suffered injury as a result of this crime.
It is not necessary that anyone be found guilty or even charged with an offence for a person to claim assistance as a victim. The injury you suffered can be physical or psychological.
If you can successfully satisfy the above, you are eligible for the following benefits:
Medical and like expenses
These are expenses incurred or reasonably likely to be incurred as a direct result of the act of violence. It can also include an allowance for travel to obtain medical treatment. You must provide evidence of these expenses in the form of receipts/invoices and you can only claim out of pocket expenses after benefits have been claimed from Medicare or via Private Health Insurance.
It is possible to claim counselling services as part of your claim. These can generally be claimed quite quickly if the need arises and are typically claimed in a similar fashion to medical expenses. You should discuss counselling with your General Practitioner as you may be eligible for counselling through Medicare.
Loss of Earnings up to $20,000
You must be able to show that you have incurred a loss of earnings as a direct result of the act of violence. This is usually done with the assistance of information from your employer, or using previous tax returns. The amount of this assistance for loss of earnings is limited to $20,000 during a period of two years following the act of violence.
Safety Related Expenses
There are expenses reasonably incurred or reasonably likely to be incurred as a direct result of the act of violence. These may include the costs of adding security features to your home or an allowance to assist you in relocating.
Loss of/Damage to Clothing
You may claim for any clothing damaged in the act of violence. This extends to glasses/sunglasses but does not cover other personal property such as mobile phones and media devices.
Special Financial Assistance between $130 and $10,000
To claim Special Financial Assistance you must show that you have suffered a significant adverse effect as a result of an act of violence. The amount of this assistance is generally determined by the type of act of violence or offence you have been the victim of.
You may claim a total of $60,000.00 for the above expenses plus Special Financial Assistance.
The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal pays your legal costs in relation to Victims of Crime Assistance claims. No amounts can be charged to you by your solicitors without the Tribunal’s prior authorisation.
You have two years from the date of the act of violence to make a Victims of Crime Assistance claim. This time limit can be extended in special circumstances on a case by case basis. Please speak to one of our solicitors if you are concerned about whether you can make a claim as there are a number of ways in which this limit can be extended.
It is possible for secondary victims, such as those who have directly witnessed an act of violence, to claim for certain types of assistance. There are also benefits available to family members of a person who has died as a result of an act of violence.
Rights Against the Offender
In certain circumstances, it may be possible to claim damages directly from the offender, either via the Sentencing Act as part of the offender’s criminal sentence, or alternatively, one may sue for damages at common law. Our solicitors will discuss these options with you as appropriate.