Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

Lodging an Application

Lodging an Application

 

You can file an application for financial assistance online by clicking HERE

An application for financial assistance can also be made in writing by completing and lodging the Application for Assistance form.  Application forms are also available from all venues of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

There is no fee for filing an application for assistance with the Tribunal.

 

Information required

This section explains each part of the Application for Assistance form and the information required within the form. The application for assistance requires information about:

  • Whether the applicant is claiming as a primary, secondary or related victim, or for funeral expenses only
  • The date and location of the crime (referred to on the application form as the act of violence)
  • Whether the act of violence was reported to the police and who and where it was reported
  • The injury or death arising from that act of violence
  • Whether the applicant  wants to attend a hearing
  • Whether the applicant has applied for damages, compensation, assistance or payments of any kind under any other schemes (such as the Transport Accident Commission or WorkCover) and details of any relevant insurance cover, and
  • The type of assistance sought by the applicant

 

Category of victim

When completing the Application for Assistance the applicant must indicate whether they are applying as a primary victim, secondary victim, related victim, or are making an application for funeral expenses only.  An application can only be made in one capacity.

 

Details of the crime

The application must also include details of the alleged crime, where it occurred, when it occurred, and who committed the crime (if known). 

Act of violence means a criminal act, or a series of related criminal acts, whether committed by one or more persons, that:

  • occurred in Victoria and
  • directly resulted in injury or death to one or more persons, irrespective of where the injury or death occurs

 

It is not necessary for the alleged offender to be prosecuted or convicted of the crime before lodging an application for assistance.  However, the criminal act that caused the injury must be serious enough to be punishable by imprisonment.  Examples include assault, injury to a person, rape, indecent assault, sexual offence against a child and criminal stalking.

 

Police reporting details

If the applicant has reported the crime to a police officer they will need to include details of the police officer’s name and the police station that they reported it to, and the date of the report.  This enables the Tribunal to contact the police officer/station and request further information about the report and the status of the police investigation.

The Tribunal cannot make an award of financial assistance if the crime was not reported to the police within a reasonable time or if the applicant failed to provide reasonable assistance to any investigation, arrest or prosecution arising out of the act of violence.  The exception to this is where the Tribunal is satisfied that there were ‘special circumstances’ that resulted in the crime not being reported to the police. 

If the applicant did not report the violent crime to the police within a reasonable time, a statutory declaration setting out the circumstances of the incident, the injuries suffered and reasons for failing to report the matter to the police should be filed with the Application for Assistance form.  This will help the Tribunal to decide whether ‘special circumstances’ exist in the case.  There is a blank statutory declaration form included in the Application for Assistance form to be completed if required.  See the FAQs page for further information regarding who may witness a statutory declaration.

In deciding whether the incident was reported within a reasonable time, the Tribunal can consider:

  • The age of the applicant at the time of the incident;
  • Whether the applicant is intellectually disabled or mentally ill;
  • Whether the alleged offender was in a position of power, influence or trust in relation to the applicant;
  • Whether the victim was threatened/intimidated by the alleged offender of any other person;
  • The nature of the injury suffered by the victim;
  • Any other relevant matters.

 

Injury suffered

In order for the Tribunal to award financial assistance, it must be satisfied that the applicant has suffered an injury. The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 defines injury as:

  • actual physical bodily harm (e.g. physical injury); or
  • mental illness or disorder or an exacerbation of a mental illness or disorder, whether or not flowing from nervous shock (e.g. psychological injury); or
  • pregnancy; or
  • any combination of these matters arising from an act of violence.

The Application for Assistance must include details of the injury or death arising from the crime.  The injury could be physical, psychological or it may have caused grief, stress or trauma.  The applicant will need to indicate what effects have been suffered as a result of the crime, details of the injury and whether or not they attended a public hospital for treatment of the injury.

NOTE:  If an applicant did receive treatment at a public hospital, the Tribunal may request the medical records directly from the hospital.

 

Determination of the Application for Assistance

An Application for Assistance may be determined at a hearing or without a hearing. The Application for Assistance form requires the applicant to indicate whether they would prefer to attend a hearing at the Tribunal or have the application determined in their absence without a hearing. The hearing process provides an opportunity for victims to give voice to the impact of the crime and to receive acknowledgement and validation of their trauma.

Sometimes, the Tribunal will decide that it is necessary to have a hearing, even if it was requested that the application is determined without a hearing.  This may be because there are complicated issues involved in the application or because the Tribunal would like to hear evidence about some matter raised in the application.  The hearing process and what you should expect when attending a Tribunal hearing is explained in more detail under Determining an Application.

 

Financial assistance from other schemes/sources

The Tribunal requires information about whether the applicant has received, or is entitled to receive, financial assistance under any other schemes for their injury as this may affect the amount of assistance it can award.  Other forms of assistance include:

  • Financial assistance for counselling or other expenses  under the Victims Assistance Program;
  • Financial Assistance from WorkCover;
  • Financial Assistance from the Transport Accident Commission;
  • Compensation pursuant to the Sentencing Act 1991;
  • Damages awarded through civil proceedings;
  • Any relevant insurance schemes.

The applicant must provide details of any relevant insurance cover (life or health) or superannuation benefit entitlements held and any payments claimed, received or to be received by the applicant or by the deceased.  The Tribunal requires medical and health insurers to meet their liabilities fully before the Tribunal will make any order for expenses incurred.

 

Type of assistance that may be awarded

The Tribunal may award financial assistance for a range of expenses.  The types of assistance available are set out in the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 and include assistance for counselling and medical expenses, safety related expenses, loss or damage to clothing, loss of earnings, loss of money expected from the deceased (related victims only) and assistance for funeral expenses.  In exceptional circumstances, the Tribunal may award an amount for other expenses actually and reasonably incurred, or reasonably likely to be incurred, by an applicant to assist them in their recovery from the act of violence. Primary victims may also make a claim for special financial assistance, which is a lump sum payment for significant adverse effects suffered.

The applicant must indicate on the application form what types of assistance they are seeking.

 

What happens once an application is filed?

Once an application is received, the Tribunal will write to the applicant or their solicitor to acknowledge receipt of the application, and provide instructions on what to do next. If you apply online you will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted your application.

The Tribunal requests that the applicant file all documentation in support of their application and a completed statement of claim within four months of the date of this letter.  The applicant must notify the Tribunal in writing within this time that the application is ready to proceed or that additional time is required to file documentation. If the applicant fails to contact the Tribunal during this time the application may be struck out.

If more time is required, the applicant should make a request in writing to the Tribunal outlining what material is still outstanding and how much time they require to obtain it.  The Tribunal can then extend the period for which all material must be filed. 

The Supporting Documentation page outlines material that should be filed with the Tribunal in relation to each type of expense claimed.

 


© Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, State Government of Victoria

Source URL: http://vocat.vic.gov.au/how-apply/lodging-application
Last Reviewed 28 Sep 2016