In addition to a common law claim for damages, there are two other ways of obtaining compensation if you have suffered injury or death as the result of a crime in Victoria.
One is via application to the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) which makes awards of financial assistance for expenses incurred, or reasonably likely to be incurred, as a direct result of a crime. The other is via a Court order made pursuant to the Sentencing Act.
VOCAT was established to allow victims to have access to financial assistance where compensation for injuries sustained cannot be obtained from the offender or other sources. For example, a victim may also be entitled to receive workers compensation benefits, TAC benefits or Medicare benefits. However, this does not mean that there will not be any compensation available under the VOCAT scheme, just that other sources of compensation will be taken into account by the Tribunal when making an award.
It is not necessary for anyone to have been charged with the crime for there to be an entitlement to an award from VOCAT, however the crime must have been reported to the Police.
Applications for assistance for medical treatment (including counselling) and loss of earnings can be made by secondary and related victims. Payments of ‘special financial assistance’ will only be made to primary victims.
In addition to VOCAT awards, claims against individuals are sometimes possible under the Sentencing Act. In this situation compensation is paid directly by the perpetrator of the crime. Therefore, such actions are only viable if the perpetrator has funds or assets from which the compensation will be paid.
In an application for compensation via the Sentencing Act, the perpetrator must have been convicted of the offence. The claim is made against the perpetrator personally, which means that any assets that the person holds including a house or funds secured in a bank account, can be drawn on.