A victim of crime may be able to apply for financial assistance and compensation in three ways:

  1. A compensation or restitution order made as part of the criminal court process.
  2. Civil court proceedings against the offender.
  3. Financial assistance from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).  
 

Compensation or restitution orders

If the court finds an offender guilty (or convicts them), the victims of the offender may apply for compensation, restitution, or both.

Compensation orders

Criminal courts can order a compensation payment to the victim for pain and suffering related to the crime. This may include:

  • physical or emotional pain
  • counselling or medical expenses (and any future expenses)
  • property loss or damage.                

Restitution orders

Restitution orders are like compensation orders, but only apply to theft offences. If the court finds an offender guilty or convicts them of a theft-related offence, the court can order:

  • the return of stolen goods
  • the replacement of the goods, or
  • payment that covers the value of the goods.

Applying for compensation or restitution  

You can apply for compensation or restitution up to 12 months after an offender is found guilty, though courts usually make these orders at the time of sentencing.

The court must know all the details of your injuries, costs and property losses before it can make an order, so provide this information to the investigating police officer or prosecutor.

Victims can apply for these orders with or without a legal representative and, sometimes, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or a police prosecutor can apply for you. Learn more about when this might happen in the DPP’s policy on Victims and Persons Adversely Affected by Crime (External link). (External link)

When an offender fails to pay

If an offender fails to pay you after a court has ordered them to, the only way to make the offender pay is by suing them in a civil court.

 

Civil court proceedings against the offender

If you want to sue an offender in a civil court, you should seek independent legal advice. Contact a lawyer or find your nearest community legal centre (External link).

You should also think about whether the offender will be able to pay compensation and your legal costs.

 

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) offers financial help to victims who cannot get help from anywhere else.

Types of help available

VOCAT decides how much help they can give you based on the crime, your injuries and whether you are a primary, secondary or ‘related’ victim.

Primary victim

A primary victim is a person who is injured or dies due to:

  • a violent crime committed against them
  • trying to arrest someone who has committed a violent crime
  • trying to stop a violent crime happening
  • trying help a victim of violent crime.

A primary victim may receive up to $60,000 for:  

  • counselling and medical expenses that are the result of a violent crime
  • reasonable safety-related expenses
  • loss of earnings up to $20,000 (for up to two years after the crime)
  • loss of or damage to clothing worn at the time of the violent crime and
  • other costs of recovering.

VOCAT may also make special payments of up to $10,000 to a primary victim, in recognition of suffering.

Secondary victim

A secondary victim is a person injured due to:

  • being at the scene of a violent crime and witnessing that crime
  • subsequently becoming aware of a violent crime where they are the parent/guardian of the primary victim who was under the age of 18.

A secondary victim may receive up to $50,000 for:  

  • counselling and medical expenses due to the crime, and
  • in rare cases, loss of earnings of up to $20,000.

Related victim

A related victim is a person who, at the time of the violent crime:

  • was a close family member of a deceased primary victim
  • was a dependent of the deceased primary victim
  • had an intimate personal relationship with a deceased primary victim.    

A close family member is a person who had a genuine personal relationship with a deceased victim including a:

  • spouse of the victim
  • parent, guardian or step-parent of the victim
  • child, or step-child of the victim, or other child of whom the victim is the guardian
  • sibling or step-sibling of the victim.

A related victim may be paid up to $50,000 for:

  • reasonable counselling services
  • medical expenses
  • funeral expenses and/or
  • any loss of money expected from the deceased.

The maximum cumulative amount that VOCAT can pay to all related victims of any one primary victim cannot exceed $100,000, unless there are exceptional circumstances.  

Find out how to make an application on The Victims of Crime Compensation website (External link).