VOCAT claims

You may be able to access VOCAT even while in prison, which can award damages for unlawful assaults.  Compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, and in some cases pain and suffering may be claimed. The amount awarded will depend on a number of factors including the category of the act of violence or crime and the extent of the injury or “significant adverse effect” of the crime, such as trauma or distress.

You should be aware that the Tribunal must consider the conduct of the victim, and any contribution they may have made to the act.  If you make a claim, the Tribunal must also consider your character, behaviour and attitude, which includes any prior convictions or findings of guilt, which may reduce the award. This is so, even if your past criminal activity has nothing to do with why you are a victim (say you have armed robbery convictions, but you have been raped in prison). If you are a victim of crime and you have been in prison, then you should consider how you will feel when the VOCAT judges your past actions and your character.  When they consider the impact of the crime against you and question these factors it is possible you will feel victimised all over again.

The three prerequisites for applying for assistance are:

  • it must be a violent crime committed in Victoria punishable by imprisonment
  • you must have suffered actual physical bodily harm, mental illness or disorder, or pregnancy – property damage is not included
  • the crime must have reported to the police within a reasonable time

How much is awarded

Even if no-one is charged with a criminal act, you may still be eligible for assistance from VOCAT, and any questions of fact are made “on the balance of probabilities”.  The amount awarded may depend on whether you are the primary, secondary, or related victim.   As mentioned, any contribution you may have made to the crime and your prior criminal record will be considered when an award is made.

To make a claim an application form must be lodged with the Registrar of VOCAT.  There is no fee for making this application. The application must be made within two years of the crime, but VOCAT may consider out-of-time applications.

VOCAT can be contacted on 9628 7855.

DX 350080 (Melbourne) – No stamp is required for DX mail

Further information

This fact sheet contains general information only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice regarding a specific problem please contact one of the legal services listed in contacts or contact the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service on 9607 9311.

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