Under the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act 2016, victims of acts of violence in the ACT can obtain financial assistance for expenses incurred as a result of physical or psychological injuries. The scheme allows victims of violent offences, witnesses to homicides and the close family members of homicide victims to obtain financial assistance. In some circumstances, a payment may also be received in recognition of trauma experienced because of an act of violence. However, the scheme does not extend to property damage.
Types of victims
Under the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance) Act, there are four different categories of victim who are eligible for assistance.
A primary victim is a person who was injured as the direct result of an act of violence. A primary victim can be awarded victims of crime financial assistance of up to $50,000.
A related victim is a person who was a family member or intimate partner of a primary victim who dies as the result of an offence. This includes parents, children, siblings and partners. The amount of assistance a related victim will receive depends on their relationship with the primary victim.
A person who was injured as a result of witnessing a homicide may apply for financial assistance of up to $10,000.
Anyone who has incurred the costs of the funeral of a primary victim can apply up to $8,000 in financial assistance as a victim of crime.
To be eligible for compensation under this scheme you must apply within three years of the act of violence (although in some circumstances this limit may be extended).
The act of violence must have occurred in the ACT after 1 July 1983.
You must generally have reported the act of violence to the police. However, some exceptions apply.
Who is not eligible for assistance?
You are unlikely to be eligible for victims of crime financial assistance if:
- You were engaged in criminal activity when the act of violence occurred;
- The act of violence occurred before 1 July 1983;
- You unreasonably failed to assist police in their investigation of the act of violence;
- The act of violence occurred outside the ACT.
Immediate need payment
Where a victim of crime requires financial assistance with urgent costs associated with recovering from an act of violence, an immediate needs payment may be made to cover expenses such as relocation, emergency medical costs, measures taken for the personal security of the victim or the cost of cleaning a homicide scene.
Economic loss payment
Financial assistance may be paid where a victim of crime has sustained economic loss as a result of an act of violence. This may include medical or counselling expenses, travel expenses or loss of earnings.
A financial payment may be made to a primary victim or to a related victim for trauma experienced as a result of an act of violence.
The amount of a recognition payment depends on the type of crime and the circumstances of the crime. Not all primary and related victims are eligible for a recognition payment.
Funeral expense payment
If you have to pay for funeral expenses of someone who has died as the result of an act of violence, you can obtain financial assistance to cover those expenses.
Recovery from the offender
If the offender is found guilty of the act of violence, the Victims of Crime Commissioner is required to seek recovery of the money paid in financial assistance from the offender. Before this occurs, the team will approach the applicant to ascertain whether they have concerns about recovery from the offender.
How do I apply for assistance?
An application for financial assistance can be made by filling in an application form. You can do this yourself or with the assistance of a solicitor.
You may be asked to submit supporting documents such as medical and financial records before your application is assessed.
If you require legal advice or representation in a victim of crime assistance matter or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.