If you have been the victim of a violent crime in the Northern Territory, you can apply for financial compensation through a government scheme administered by the Crime Victims Services Unit (CVSU). The scheme offers financial assistance for physical and psychological injuries, loss of earnings and other expenses incurred as the result of a violent act. Victims of Crime Assistance is governed by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act and the Victims of Crime Assistance Regulations.
You can make a claim if you are the primary victim, a secondary victim or a family victim of a violent crime, provided you fulfill certain conditions.
Who is eligible for Victims of Crime Assistance?
Who is not eligible?
You are not eligible for victims of crime assistance through CVSU if you are the victim of:
- A crime that happened outside of the Northern Territory;
- A property crime, such as theft or burglary, where there was no physical injury;
- A crime that occurred whilst you were also committing a criminal offence;
You may also be unsuccessful in your claim if you have failed to report the violent act to police without a reasonable explanation or if you have failed to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation.
Is there a time limit?
Claims should be made within two years of the violent act. If you have missed the two-year limitation period, CVSU may still accept a claim from you if you can show that you had a good reason for failing to lodge your claim within the two-year period.
If you were under the age of 18 when the violent act occurred, you have until two years after you turn 18 to make the claim.
What items can be claimed?
Items you may claim financial assistance for include:
- Physical or psychological injury;
- Loss of earnings;
- Damage to clothing or personal effects during the violent act;
- Cost of medical expenses or counseling;
- Funeral expenses.
How do I make a claim?
You must complete the Victims of Crime Assistance application form and sign an authorisation giving CVSU permission to access your police and medical records. If you are claiming financial assistance for injuries, you will need to have the extent of your injuries assessed by a medical professional. If you are claiming for other expenses such as loss of earnings or medical costs, you must provide all relevant documentation to CVSU so that they can assess this part of your claim. This may include payslips, a letter from your employer, receipts for personal effects damaged during the crime or quotes for replacing them.
It usually takes the CVSU around two years to finalise a claim. CVSU may contact you during this time to request further information. If you require immediate financial assistance, you can apply for this here and this claim will be assessed immediately.
Primary, secondary or family victim
If you are directly affected by a violent act, you are a primary victim.
A primary victim can be awarded up to $40,000 in assistance, including up to $10,000 for financial loss.
If you witness or are affected by a violent act committed against someone else, you are a secondary victim.
A secondary victim can be awarded up to $40,000 in assistance, including up to $10,000 for financial loss.
You can make a claim as a secondary victim if any of the following applies:
- You witness a crime and suffer a mental injury as a result;
- You are a child of, or a person under the guardianship of, the victim and you suffer a mental injury upon learning of the crime;
- You are the parent or guardian of a child who is the victim of a crime and you suffer a mental injury upon learning of the crime.
If you are the family member of a person who dies as the result of a violent act, you are a family victim.
A family victim can be awarded up to $10,000 for financial loss or out-of-pocket expenses.
You can make an application as a family victim if any of the following applies:
- You are the spouse or de facto partner of a person who died as a result of a violent act;
- You are the parent or guardian of someone who died as the result of a violent act;
- You are the child or someone who is under the guardianship of a person who died as the result of a violent act.
Financial assistance for injuries
Not all physical and psychological injuries are compensable.
For a physical injury to be compensable, it must meet the compensable injuries threshold. If you have a single minor injury from a violent act, such as bruising or a fracture, you will not meet the compensable threshold. However, if you have several minor injuries, they may meet the threshold when combined. It is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer to find out whether your injuries are compensable under Victims of Crime Assistance.
For a psychological injury to be compensable, it must be a recognised psychological or psychiatric disorder. Examples of recognised psychological disorders include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. How much a person is awarded for a recognised psychological disorder depends on how serious the disorder is and also on whether it is attributable wholly or only in part to the violent act.
If you require legal assistance please contact Go To Court Lawyers.