The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) (External link) is the Victorian government-funded scheme. It can make payments to eligible victims of violent crimes where:
- the crime happened in Victoria
- was reported to the police within a reasonable time
- the crime directly lead to injury to the victim.
It can help with things like:
- counselling and medical expenses
- safety related expenses
- loss or damage to clothing worn at the time of the incident
- loss of earnings
- funeral costs.
It cannot provide compensation for lost or damaged property.
If you plan to seek financial assistance, keep medical reports and evidence of your expenses.
You may be able to claim some expenses in other ways.
You can get free advice about applying to VOCAT from the Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817.
You can get legal advice and help seeking financial assistance from the Victims Legal Service.
Amount of assistance available
Although maximum payouts are listed below, the average amount of financial assistance paid by VOCAT to a victim is around $7700. Keep in mind that every person’s situation is different.
The maximum amount of financial assistance depends on the details of the crime and if you are a primary, secondary or related victim.
Who can apply?
People who have been victims of violent crime may be eligible under one of three categories - primary, secondary and related victims
This is a person who is injured or dies as a direct result of:
- an act of violence committed against them
- trying to stop an act of violence
- helping the victim of an act of violence
- trying to arrest someone who has committed an act of violence.
Where the primary victim has died, their next of kin may be a related victim.
Primary victims can receive up to $60,000 for:
- medical and counselling expenses
- safety-related expenses
- loss of income (up to $20,000)
- replacement of lost or damaged clothing worn at the time of the act of violence.
This is a person who is injured as a direct result of:
- being at the scene and witnessing an act of violence
- becoming aware of an act of violence (this applies to a parent/guardian of a primary victim who was less than 18 years old at the time of the act).
Secondary victims are entitled to up to $50,000 for:
- medical and counselling expenses
- loss of earnings of up to $20,000 (in exceptional circumstances).
This is a person who at the time of an act of violence had a close relationship with the person who died (the primary victim).
- be a close family member
- be a dependant, or
- have been in an intimate personal relationship.
Related victims may be entitled to:
- medical or funeral expenses
- counselling expenses
- assistance for distress experienced
- loss of money expected to be received from the deceased (up to two years after the death).
The total amount that can be awarded to any one related victim is $50,000 and the total pool for all related victims is $100,000.
How to apply
To apply for financial assistance from VOCAT:
- you must be a victim of a violent crime that occurred in Victoria
- the crime must have been reported to police within a reasonable time
- the crime must have happened within the last two years (except in the case of some crimes that occurred when the victim was under 18).
You can still apply to VOCAT if:
- the offender has not been identified or charged by the police
- the accused person was not found guilty at court.
Make your application
- Collect your evidence
You will need evidence about how the crime has affected you, such as:
- evidence from your doctor or hospital to prove that you have been injured
- reports from your psychologist about any psychological injury you have suffered
- proof of loss of earnings
- any other expenses that resulted from the crime.
- Apply to VOCAT
You can apply in two ways:
- Apply online at the VOCAT website (External link)
- Hand in your handwritten application at your local Magistrates’ Court (External link) You can print out the Application for Assistance form from the VOCAT website (External link)
You can go to a solicitor and get them to help you with your application. VOCAT will often cover this cost.
After you have applied
You will get an email or letter from VOCAT to let you know that they have received your application.
VOCAT will make a decision about your application. They will need to collect evidence about the crime, including from the police. This can take some time.
If you need urgent financial assistance, you can apply for an ‘interim award’. Add a letter to your VOCAT application form that says:
- you want to apply for an interim award
- the amount of assistance you need
- the reason why you need the payment urgently.
- you should also provide copies of receipts or bills.
For more information about urgent financial assistance, call VOCAT on 1800 882 752.
In the meantime, call the companies you have bills with to tell them you are having financial hardship. Their phone number is usually at the top of the bill. They might give you extra time to pay or organise a payment plan for you.
Get help with your application
The Victims of Crime Helpline (1800 819 817) is a free service that can help you apply for financial assistance.
Other things you can get help with:
- your day to day needs
- emergency home security
- managing your personal safety
- communicating with police and making a report
- organising counselling, transport and medical services
- getting ready for court
- getting information about the offender.