Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal – Are You Eligible For Assistance?

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (‘VOCAT’) was established by Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 with the aim to assist victims in their recovery by providing practical financial assistance for expenses incurred or reasonably likely to be incurred, by the victim as a direct result of the crime within Victoria.

In addition to expenses, a lump sum termed ‘Special Financial Assistance’ may be available to certain victims as a symbolic expression by the State recognising the pain and suffering experienced or suffered by victims of crime.

Special Financial Assistance is not an award of compensation to victims of crime. The Tribunal recognises that the State cannot adequately compensate victims of crime for the trauma and distress endured. You may be further entitled to compensation at common law or otherwise.

Eligibility for Assistance

To be eligible for assistance, you, as the applicant, must show that:

  1. You were victim of an applicable crime that happened in Victoria; and
  2. You were injured (either physically or psychologically) as a direct result of that

Applications for assistance should be made within two years of the act of violence, although exceptional circumstances can apply. This time limit does not apply to applications made by a victim that was under the age of 18 years when the act of violence occurred involving physical abuse or sexual abuse.

If the act of violence has not been reported to the Victoria Police, then the applicant must make a statutory declaration outlining the circumstances of the act of violence and the reason for not reporting the crime.

Applicants may be victims of an act of violence, an injured witness, a parent of an injured child who has become adversely affected by their child’s injury or a close family member of a victim who has died as a direct result of the act of violence.

Primary Victim

A primary victim of an act of violence is a person who is injured or dies as a direct result of an act of violence committed against them.

You may be further eligible as a primary victim if you are injured or there is a death as a direct result of:

  1. Trying to arrest someone whom you believe on reasonable grounds has committed an act of violence; or
  2. Trying to prevent the commission of an act of violence; or
  3. Trying to aid or rescue someone whom you believe on reasonable grounds is a victim of an act of violence.

Secondary Victim

A secondary victim is a person who is present at the scene of an act of violence and who is injured as a direct result of witnessing the act of violence.

A parent or guardian of a primary victim who was under the age of 18 years at the time of the act of violence can be a secondary victim if a person is injured as a direct result of becoming aware of an act of violence.

Related Victim

A close family member, dependant of, or someone who had an intimate relationship with a primary victim who died as a direct result of the act of violence is a related victim.

Assistance Available

A wide range of practical financial assistance may be available to victims of crime including:

  1. Counselling expenses;
  2. Medical expenses;
  3. Up to $20,000 in loss of earnings;
  4. Loss or damage to clothing worn at the time of the act of violence;
  5. Safety-related expenses;
  6. Funeral expenses; and
  7. Other items to assist in a victim’s

What are other items to assist in a victim’s recovery?

This assistance exists as an alternative to talking therapy for victims of crime. Examples include but are not limited to, a gym membership, massage, or art classes.

Process of an Application

A victim can make an application to the Tribunal directly, or we can do so as a legal representative on your behalf. The Application is lodged with a Registrar of the Tribunal.

If there are no issues with the application form, the Tribunal will provide an Acknowledgement of Assistance. Once this has been received, the victim has two months to gather all supporting documentation which may include, receipts, invoices, quotations, medical reports, or a psychologist report which is funded by the Tribunal.

A Statement of Claim is then prepared enclosing all supporting documentation. This is lodged with the Tribunal and if no issues, the Tribunal will provide a Section 33 Advice. A Section 33 Advice is an offer of assistance which can be accepted or rejected by the applicant. If accepted, the Tribunal will grant an Award of Assistance.

An applicant has 6 years from the date of the Award of Assistance to make any further applications regarding the act of violence.


On 6 April 2022, new laws were introduced into Parliament which will change the process for providing financial assistance to victims of crime.

The Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Bill 2022 will replace the Victims of Crime Tribunal (VOCAT) with an administrative Financial Assistance Scheme. These reforms are in support of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Under the new scheme, there is no need for hearings or for victims to face their perpetrators. Other changes include the option for victims to request a victim recognition meeting to discuss the harm caused to them and have their experience acknowledged by a government official.

The reforms are expected to commence in the second half of 2023.


VOCAT is a valuable service for victims who are suffering from the consequences of an act of violence. Victims are supported by the State in their recovery process and assisted in moving towards a positive outcome and an improved life.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice with a VOCAT application, please contact our Intake team on (03) 8415 5600 or email us at reception@hartleyslawyers.com.au.

This article is intended to provide general information only. You should obtain professional advice before you undertake any course of action.

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