Losing a loved one to crime may be one of the most painful and shocking experiences you can go through. It also means that you may need to deal with the justice process for many years following the crime.
The Victims of Crime Helpline can provide advice and support during this difficult time and connect you with services as you need them. You can use this website to learn more about the justice system in Victoria.
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police on Triple Zero (000). You can also go to your local police station to report a crime.
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can provide information and advice and support to people who have lost a loved one to crime.
What is homicide?
A homicide occurs when a person is killed unlawfully. It covers situations where it can be proved that an offender intended to kill the person (murder) or where that cannot be proved (manslaughter).
It can also cover situations where a death is caused by culpable driving of a vehicle or workplace negligence.
If someone threatens to kill another person or behaves in a way that makes them think they will harm them, this can also be a crime.
Charges related to homicide
Depending on the circumstances, an offender may be charged with different offences such as:
- culpable driving.
If physical violence is threatened, the charges can include:
- threats to kill
- threats to inflict serious injury.
Free support across Victoria
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 is available every day from 8am to 11pm to provide advice and support to anyone who has lost a loved one or family member to homicide in Victoria.
The helpline can also help people who are experiencing difficulty and need support after being a witness to a homicide.
When you contact the helpline, a Victims Support Officer can discuss your situation with you and advise on assistance and support services you can access.
The helpline may also be able to organise a support worker from the Victims Assistance Program who can:
- organise counselling, transport and medical services
- help you communicate with police
- assist with managing disruptions to work and study by letting people know what has happened
- assist with applying for financial assistance
- provide options for managing your home and personal security, if they have been affected by the crime.
Understanding the traumatic effects of crime
Losing a loved one to violent crime is a frightening and traumatic experience. Witnesses who see someone hurt or killed can also be deeply affected, even if they do not know the victim.
Everyone's response is different, but it can be helpful to understand the common feelings and physical reactions people have and what to expect.
On this website, you can learn more about:
- common emotional and physical reactions to stressful events like crimes
- information about living with grief
- suggestions to help you with recovery
- how to best support a family member or friend
- how to help a child who has been affected by crime.
Whether it is just after the crime or you are dealing with ongoing effects on your health and wellbeing, counselling is available. The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can connect you to services that can help.
Help to understand the justice process
The Victims of Crime Helpline can answer your questions about:
- the justice process and what to expect
- getting information about the court case
- giving evidence as a witness and support that is available for you if you need to go to court
- preparing a Victim Impact Statement to tell the court how the crime affected you
- getting information from the Victims Register about the offender if they are sentenced to prison.
You can learn more about homicide and the justice process below.
Report a violent crime
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is occurring , please call police on Triple Zero (000). You can also go to a police station to report a crime.
You can also contact your local police station to report non-urgent situations such as:
- an incident that happened in the past
- threats of harm where there is no immediate danger.
You can learn more about reporting a crime to police.
What will happen if a homicide is reported?
When a person dies as the result of a crime, there will usually be two investigations:
- the coroner’s investigation
- the police investigation.
The family or next of kin of the deceased person may be contacted by both the police and coroner’s staff.
The coroner’s investigation
A coroner’s investigation focuses on understanding the physical cause of death and the circumstances that led to the person dying.
To make their report, the coroner’s office:
- will usually undertake any medical examinations of the deceased person that are required
- will also consider findings from the police investigation
- may, in a small number of cases, hold an inquest , where evidence will be given by witnesses to help the coroner understand the circumstances that led to the death.
If a person is charged with a crime relating to the death, the coroner will usually wait for the court process to finish before finishing their report.
The police investigation
A police investigation focuses on determining what happened and if someone should be charged with a crime.
At first, local police may be involved as they will probably be the first at the scene. In a suspected homicide, detectives from the homicide squad will conduct the investigation. In a road traffic incident involving death or serious injury, the Major Collision Investigation Unit will investigate.
Early in the investigation, family members will speak with several different police officers. Once a team is formed by police, a senior investigator will keep you updated on the progress of the investigation.
You should be kept informed by the police about how the investigation is going. It is important to understand that this does not mean that police can give you all the details about suspects, witnesses or evidence.
Sometimes, police may not be able to provide family members with certain information because it could put the investigation at risk.
The senior investigator will contact you during the investigation. From time to time, team members may contact you or other family members to collect information and take witness statements.
When enough evidence is collected to charge someone, the senior investigator will be your key contact for information about the court case.
If you would prefer not to hear any information about the investigation at all, let the police know.
Going to court
After the police have charged an offender, the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) is notified and the charges are filed in court.
The Office of Public Prosecutions will:
- organise a solicitor for the case
- give you contact details so that you can ask about the case
- put you in touch with their Victims and Witness Assistance Service .
As the case progresses, the OPP solicitor will keep you updated.
If an offender is found by the police, they may be charged and the justice process will start.
This website explains the justice process in Victoria. You can learn about:
Dealing with the media
Some crimes can be of interest to the media. The police will not release the name of a victim without the consent of the next of kin, but the media may still be able to identify victims and contact friends and families.
If you have questions or concerns, you can contact:
- the police officer in charge of your investigation
- the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 818 817.
You can learn more about victims of crime and the media.
Services for counselling and bereavement support
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 13 11 14
Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
Provides a specialist bereavement service for individuals, children and families who need assistance following the death of someone close to them, including face-to-face counselling and support groups.
Anonymous telephone counselling service providing support to people who are experiencing loss and grief.
Open 12pm–3am, every day
Call 1300 845 745
The Compassionate Friends Victoria
Supporting parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents after the death of a child at any age.
Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: (03) 9888 4944 or 1300 064 068
Coroners Court of Victoria
For information about a coroner’s investigation you can contact the Coroners Court.
Call: 1300 309 519
Victorian Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.
Open: 8am–6pm, every day
Call: 1800 677 402
Victoria’s health and safety regulator and manager of Victoria’s workers compensation scheme (WorkCover). If the death happened while the person was performing work duties, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Open: 7.30am–6.30pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1800 136 089