Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for financial assistance?

Am I eligible?

Do I have to pay for a solicitor?

Will the alleged offender be notified?

Do I have to attend the Tribunal for a hearing?

Where should I file my application?

How long will it take to finalise my claim?

Once my claim is finalised how long will it take for me to receive my award?

How do I get urgent financial assistance?

What happens if I have not reported the matter to police?

Who can witness a Statutory Declaration?

Does the Tribunal consider claims relating to property loss or damage?

 

How do I apply for financial assistance?

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.

Further information can be found on the How to Apply page.

 

Am I eligible?

A person may apply for financial assistance if:

  • a violent crime was committed against them and they have suffered an injury
  • the crime occurred in Victoria
  • they are a primary, secondary or related victim of that violent crime as defined by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, or a person who has incurred funeral expenses as a direct result of the death of a primary victim.

Further information regarding each type of victim category is outlined on the Who Can Apply page.

 

Do I have to pay for a solicitor?

There are no fees associated with the filing of an application to the Tribunal and a lawyer cannot charge an applicant costs in respect of an application, unless the Tribunal approves those costs.  

Pursuant to section 48 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 the costs of, and incidental to, all proceedings in the Tribunal are in the discretion of the Tribunal and it has full power to determine by whom, to whom and to what extent the costs are to be paid.  

Where an application for financial assistance is successful, the reasonable legal costs incurred by the applicant will usually be paid by the Tribunal, directly to the applicant’s legal representative.  

If an applicant is legally represented, the legal representative must complete the ‘Amounts Payable to Solicitor’ section of your Statement of Claim form prior to submitting it to the Tribunal. Legal representatives should also attach any receipts and invoices for solicitors disbursements claimed.

Finding a Lawyer

The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) online Directory Service and Legal Referral Service can assist you to locate legal professionals in your area or within a specific area of law. The LIV's phone and online Legal Referral Service provides free referrals to solicitors all over Victoria.  Referrals are made according to practice area, geographic location, preferred language and other specific requirements.

http://www.liv.asn.au/LIV-Home/For-the-Community/Find-a-Lawyer-Director…

 

Will the alleged offender be notified?

Where there is no prosecution, or where the criminal charge(s) have been dismissed or withdrawn the Tribunal may have to conduct an investigation to determine whether it is satisfied that the act of violence occurred. While this rarely occurs, the Tribunal may consider notifying the alleged offender to provide them with an opportunity to appear at a hearing to contest the allegations made.

The Tribunal is always mindful of the potential discomfort and additional distress caused to applicants in the relatively few matters where an alleged offender is notified of an application. The applicant is advised, as required by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, if the Tribunal is considering notifying the alleged offender and is always given an opportunity to make submissions in opposition. Moreover, the Tribunal is able to limit the distress likely to be caused by an alleged offender attending a hearing by making orders for alternative arrangements, for instance, enabling evidence to be given via video link or allowing a support person to be present with the applicant.

 

Do I have to attend the Tribunal for a hearing?

The Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 provides flexibility in the manner in which applications for financial assistance can be determined by the Tribunal. It does this by providing applicants with the opportunity to appear before a Tribunal member or to have their applications determined in their absence, and provides an opportunity for victims to give voice to the impact of the crime and to receive acknowledgement and validation of their trauma through a hearing process.

The majority of applications are determined by a judicial officer ‘on the papers’, that is, without a hearing. Where applications are straight-forward, this is the most efficient and timely mechanism for the determination of applications for financial assistance.

Where an applicant elects to attend a hearing, the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 allows the Tribunal to operate in a way that is demonstrably victim-centred. At its best, this system operates in a way that optimises both the symbolic and practical assistance available to victims of crime by validating their experiences of trauma, addressing the financial impact of the crime, and in providing financial assistance directed at best achieving that individual victim’s recovery from the crime.

Despite a request for an application to be determined without a hearing, the Tribunal may decide to conduct a hearing of an application if it is not satisfied, based on the material on file, that an act of violence has occurred.  In these circumstances, the Tribunal will require evidence at the hearing.  The Tribunal may also decide to adjourn its final decision regarding an application for financial assistance to await the outcome of the prosecution for the act of violence.

 

Where should I file my application?

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

Generally, hard copy applications for assistance must be lodged at the venue of the Tribunal that is closest to the applicant’s place of residence. This will occur automatically if you apply using the online form.

All venues of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria are venues of the Tribunal.  Contact details for Tribunal venues are provided under the Tribunal’s Locations page.

If there is more than one applicant and they are not close family members, the application must be lodged at the venue of the Tribunal that is closest to the place where the incident occurred. For assistance in determining which Magistrates' Court is closest, you may wish to use the following feature on the Magistrates' Court website.

Applications to be filed with the Tribunal’s Principal Registry at Melbourne

Applications should be lodged at Melbourne in the following circumstances:

  • the applicant is a related victim
  • the applicant is a primary or secondary victim who is aware of the existence of a related victim
  • the applicant resides outside Victoria
  • the applicant identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and should be managed within the Tribunal’s Koori List

 

How long will it take to finalise my claim?

The time taken to finalise an application for financial assistance will vary between applications. In determining an application, the Tribunal is required by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 and procedural fairness to have regard to certain matters, which impact on the time taken to finalise an application.

Before finalising an application, a Tribunal member may determine that it is appropriate to await the outcome of a criminal investigation, trial or inquest; may request that further enquiries be made or that the alleged offender be notified of the application; or decide that they will wait for an injury to stabilise so that an accurate prognosis can be provided to the Tribunal. In applications for financial assistance by related victims of an act of violence, time may be required to identify and communicate with all potential related victims of a deceased primary victim to advise them of their possible right to apply to the Tribunal for financial assistance. It is also the Tribunal’s practice to await the readiness of all applications prior to finalising related victim matters.

After an application for financial assistance has been lodged, the applicant will be required to provide all documentation upon which they intend to rely in support of their claim. Applicants are automatically provided four months to provide this information; however, the Tribunal commonly receives requests from applicants and/or their legal representatives for further time for the filing of material. At times, the Tribunal receives no material in support of a claim. In these circumstances, an applicant will be provided with a number of opportunities for the material to be filed. If no response is subsequently received from the applicant, the claim may be struck out. Where requested, an application can be reinstated once an applicant has filed material in support of their claim. 

 

Once my claim is finalised how long will it take for me to receive my award?

Once an award for financial assistance has been made by the Tribunal the award will be entered onto the Tribunal’s electronic database. Notification of the award may then be generated and a copy of the award notices will be sent to the applicant/their legal representative. Payment will generally be made by cheque unless a request is made for an award to be deposited directly into a nominated bank account.

Payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

If advised prior to the finalisation of an award for financial assistance the Tribunal may directly deposit the award into a nominated bank account. Please contact the venue of the Tribunal managing your application for further information.

Estimated payment timeframes

Given the number of awards of financial assistance made by the Tribunal, it can take up to six weeks from the time an award of financial assistance is made and award notices are sent, to the time the cheque is dispatched. 

Cheques are dispatched centrally by the Court Services Victoria Finance Office on a weekly basis. Where an applicant has nominated for direct deposit into a bank account via EFT transfer, payment may be received within 48 hours of the award being processed by the Tribunal’s Finance Department. Cheque dispatch and EFT Transfers may not occur for up to six weeks from when the award is made by the Tribunal.

Change of address details

Applicants should ensure that the Tribunal is notified of any change of address prior to the finalisation of an award. The venue of the Tribunal managing the application should be notified in writing of any changes in contact and address information.

What happens if payment is not received

If payment of an award is not be received within six weeks of the award being made please contact the relevant venue to the Tribunal.

 

How do I get urgent financial assistance?

An applicant may make an application for interim financial assistance at any time prior to the final determination of their application.  Applications for interim awards of financial assistance are made in writing to the Tribunal, setting out the reasons and urgency for the interim request and enclosing receipts, tax invoices and other documentation in support of the expenses claimed. For further information regarding the supporting documentation required in relation to each type of expense, see the Supporting Documentation page.

Before the Tribunal can consider an application for interim financial assistance, the applicant must have completed and lodged an Application for Assistance form with the Tribunal.

Further information can be found on the Urgent Financial Assistance page.

 

What happens if I have not reported the matter to police?

In determining whether or not to make an award of financial assistance, or the amount of financial assistance to award, the Tribunal must have regard to:

  • whether the crime was reported to police within a reasonable time
  • the assistance provided by the applicant to police to investigate or prosecute the alleged crime
  • the conduct and attitude of the applicant prior to, during and after the crime
  • the character of the applicant, including past criminal activity
  • whether the offender will benefit from an award of financial assistance made to the applicant
  • any damages that the applicant has recovered from the offender
  • any compensation, assistance or payment that the applicant has received, or is entitled to receive, from other sources such as WorkCover, the Transport Accident Commission and insurance schemes.

The Tribunal must refuse to make an award of assistance if satisfied that:

  • The violent crime was not reported to police within a reasonable time; or
  • The applicant failed to provide reasonable assistance to any person investigating the act of violence, in the arrest or prosecution of any person by whom the act of violence was allegedly committed unless the Tribunal considers that special circumstances exist.

In considering whether the act of violence was reported to the police within a reasonable time, the Tribunal may have regard to any matters that it considers relevant, including:

  • the age of the victim at the time of the occurrence of the violent crime;
  • whether the victim is intellectually disabled within the meaning of the Disability Act 2006 or mentally ill within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1986;
  • whether the person who committed, or is alleged to have committed, the violent crime was in a position of power, influence or trust in relation to the victim;
  • whether the victim was threatened or intimidated by the person who committed, or is alleged to have committed, the violent crime or any other person; or
  • the nature of the injury alleged to have been suffered by the victim. 

“Special circumstances” are not defined in the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996; however the Tribunal has held such circumstances to mean “out of the common run” or “out of the ordinary.”  Whether “special circumstances” are found to exist will depend on the facts of the particular application. 

 

Who can witness a Statutory Declaration?

The following list is not exhaustive. Please refer to section 30(2) of the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018  for the full list of authorised persons. 

  • A Justice of the Peace or a Bail Justice 
  • A Public Notary 
  • A public service employee with a classification level of 2 or equivalent or above, however described
  • An Australian legal practitioner (within the meaning of the Legal Profession Act 2004)
  • A clerk to an Australian lawyer 
  • An associate to a judicial officer
  • The Prothonotary or a Deputy Prothonotary of the Supreme Court 
  • The Registrar of Probates or an Assistant Registrar of Probates 
  • The Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the County Court 
  • The Principal Registrar or a Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court
  • The Principal Registrar or a Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Children's Court
  • The Principal Registrar, or a Registrar of Deputy Registrar of VCAT
  • The Principal Registrar or a Registrar of the Coroner's Court
  • The Associate to a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the County Court 
  • The Secretary of a Master of the Supreme Court or of the County Court 
  • A person registered as a Patent Attorney under Chapter 20 of the Patents Act 1990 of the Commonwealth 
  • Protective Services Officers within the meaning of section 3(1) of the Victoria Police Act 2013
  • A member of the police force 
  • The sheriff or a deputy sheriff 
  • A member or a former member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria 
  • A member or a former member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth 
  • A councillor of a municipality 
  • A senior officer of a Council as defined in the Local Government Act 1989 
  • A registered medical practitioner within the meaning of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 
  • A registered dentist within the meaning of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005  
  • A pharmacist 
  • A principal in the [State] teaching service 
  • A person employed under Part 3 of the Public Administration Act 2004 with a classification that is prescribed as a classification for statutory declarations or who holds office in a statutory authority with such a classification 
  • A fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (Victoria). 
  • Registrars and Deputy Registrars of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria are available during normal business hours to witness Statutory Declarations.

Please note:


This list contains the persons who are accepted as authorised to receive affidavits for documents that are remaining within Victoria.


For any documents that are being sent interstate, it is best for them to be signed by a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.
For any documents that are being sent overseas, it is best for them to be signed by a Justice of the Peace or a Public Notary, depending on the country. For example, Commonwealth countries will usually accept either one, but European countries will usually insist on the seal of a Public Notary.

 

Does the Tribunal consider claims relating to property loss or damage?

The Tribunal cannot award financial assistance for expenses incurred through the loss of, or damage to property as a result of a crime, except clothing worn at the time of the crime and in some cases security expenses.

 

 


© Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, State Government of Victoria

Source URL: https://vocat.vic.gov.au/how-apply/frequently-asked-questions
Last Reviewed 27 Feb 2019