As a victim of crime, you may have incurred costs and it is important to understand how you can apply for financial assistance.

You may need to provide evidence about your costs as part of your claims, so you should keep documents such as:

  • medical and counselling receipts
  • reports from doctors and other medical professionals regarding injuries
  • evidence of expenses
  • quotes for the replacement or repair of lost or damaged property
  • records regarding any time spent away from work because of the crime.

VOCAT and other agencies can provide financial assistance to eligible victims of violent crime to help cover some expenses.

You may be able to claim some expenses of going to court if you are required as a witness.

You can apply for compensation from the offender if they are found guilty.

Financial assistance from VOCAT

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) (External link) is the Victorian government-funded scheme providing financial assistance to victims of violent crime to 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.

Learn more about applying for financial assistance to VOCAT.

Please note that VOCAT does not provide financial assistance for lost or damaged property.

You can:

Claiming costs

You may also be able to claim for some costs through:

Financial assistance from VOCAT may be reduced if you can claim costs such as these.

Witness expenses

If you are required to go to court as a witness, you may be able to apply for various witness expenses to help cover costs such as:

  • lost wages
  • travel expenses
  • meal allowances
  • overnight accommodation for witnesses who live interstate.

You can find out more from the Office of Public Prosecutions (External link) website.

Seeking compensation from the offender

If the accused person is found guilty of the crime committed against you, you may be able to claim compensation from them.

You can apply for a court order to make the offender:

  • compensate you for the injuries, pain and suffering that the crime has caused
  • return your stolen possessions (this is called a restitution order)
  • pay you for what any lost, damaged or sold property is worth.

There are three ways that you can make a compensation or restitution claim against the offender.

 

The criminal court case

From the time an offender is sentenced for the crime committed against you, claims can be made in court for up to 12 months by the prosecutor on the case (either the police or the Office of Public Prosecutions).

It is important to understand that the process to claim compensation from an offender can be complex. A range of factors need to be considered, including:

  • whether the offender will be able to pay the compensation
  • how much it will cost to enforce the order for compensation if the offender refuses to pay.

Preparing your compensation claim

If you wish to make a compensation claim against the offender, contact the person prosecuting your case as early as possible to let them know. This will give you more time to organise your claim and ask about what evidence you may need. 

If you are claiming compensation for pain, suffering and injuries, you must keep all your medical receipts. You might also need doctors’ reports for evidence.

If you make a claim for property damage or loss, you must have quotes for how much it will cost to repair or replace.

If the accused person is found guilty of a theft-related offence, the court may order them to return the goods or money stolen from you. If the goods have been sold, destroyed or lost, the court can order the offender to pay you the value of the goods.

 

Civil court action

Civil court action is another option to try to get compensation from the offender. This is a separate court process to the criminal court case.

Get legal advice

It is a good idea to get independent legal advice about making a claim because your legal claim must be made in court and you may have to pay legal costs.

The information on this website is not legal advice from the Department of Justice and Community Safety and it is your responsibility to make sure that you have appropriate legal advice for your situation.

You can:

 

The Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund

The Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund (the fund) can give you another chance to seek compensation from the offender for the pain and suffering they caused you.

If an offender is injured while they are in prison they can sue the prison. If they are successful they may be paid compensation for their injury.

If the offender is paid $10,000 or more, the money will be held in the fund for at least 12 months. The offender cannot access the money during this time.

You may want to make a legal claim against the offender, knowing that this money may be available if your claim is successful.

Large compensation payments to offender are rare. On average, only two compensation payments of $10,000 or more are made to offenders each year in Victoria.

Finding out if a payment has been made to a offender

The best way to find out if this type of payment has been made to a offender is by registering with the Victims Register.

There are laws in Victoria about who can get information from the Victims Register. If you are registered, you will be sent a letter if money paid to a offender is being held in the fund.

Read more about the Victims Register and how to apply.

There may be cases where people who are not eligible to be on the Victims Register may still be able to make a legal claim against the offender. For example, where the crime committed was a property crime or when the offender has finished their sentence.

You can apply for information about the money held in the fund by contacting the Victims Register and requesting a PCQF Application form.

Public notices are also published:

Claiming money from the offender

Money in the fund is not automatically paid to victims of crime. You have to make a legal claim against the offender in court.

Get legal advice

It is a good idea to get independent legal advice about making a claim because your legal claim must be made in court. The information on this website is not legal advice from the Department of Justice and Community Safety and it is your responsibility to make sure that you have appropriate legal advice for your situation.

You can find a lawyer on the website of the Law Institute of Victoria. It assists people in locating a lawyer through an online find a lawyer referral service (External link).  

Even if there is money being held in the fund, there is no guarantee that you will get any compensation from the offender, as there may be other claims for the money.

Contact the Victims Register

Before you make a decision to start legal proceedings to make a legal claim against the offender, contact the Victims Register.

The Victims Register may be able to tell you:

  • the amount of money being held in the fund
  • if there are any other claims against the offender
  • the date when the 12-month holding period started.

Making a legal claim

If you decide to make a legal claim, you have 12 months from the date in the public notice to start your claim against the offender.

In order to hold money in the fund while you make your claim:

  • Contact the Victims Register to apply to go on the Victims Register or the PCQF Register, if you have not already done so.
  • Ask your lawyer to tell the Victims Register in writing that you are making a compensation claim in court.

The Victims Register may hold the money in the fund until the court makes a decision about your claim, even if that is longer than 12 months.

More information

For more information about the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund: