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Victims of Crime

On 11 August 2011, the NSW Attorney General announced an independent assessment of the Victims Compensation Scheme (“the Scheme”) intending to delivering faster and more effective financial support to victims of violent crime.

The Victims Compensation Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) was established under the Victims Compensation Act 1987 and continues under the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (“the Act”). The object of the Act is to provide support and rehabilitation for victims of violent crime by giving effect to an approved counselling and a statutory compensation
scheme.

As a general rule, victim compensation claims can only be made in respect of crimes involving violence. Some jurisdictions consider sexual crimes and domestic violence to fall within this definition, but the rules will vary based on where the crime occurred in Australia.

What the Law Says - Section 6 Persons eligible for statutory compensation of the Victims Support and Rehabilitation ACT 1996

The following persons are eligible for statutory compensation:

(a) a primary victim of an act of violence,

(b) a secondary victim of an act of violence,

(c) a family victim of an act of violence.

Who is a primary victim? Section 7

This is a person who was injured or died as a direct result of the crime. They may also be a person who suffered these injuries because they were attempting to stop the commission of an offence, rescue a victim or arrest the offender.

(1) A "primary victim" of an act of violence is a person who receives a compensable injury, or dies, as a direct result of that act.

(2) A primary victim of an act of violence extends to a person who receives a compensable injury, or dies, as a direct result of:

(a) trying to prevent another person from committing that act, or

(b) trying to help or rescue another person against whom that act is being committed or has just been committed, or

(c) trying to arrest another person who is committing, or who has just committed, that act.

Who is a secondary victim? Section 8

These victims are a much wider group of people. They include people who were injured because they witnessed the crime being committed against the primary victim. Also, some victim compensation laws cover close relatives of the primary victim who was not at the scene of the crime but became aware of the violent crime.

(1) A "secondary victim" of an act of violence is a person who receives a compensable injury as a direct result of witnessing the act of violence that resulted in the compensable injury to, or death of, the primary victim of that act.

(2) A secondary victim of an act of violence extends to a person who receives a compensable injury as a direct result of subsequently becoming aware of the act of violence that resulted in the compensable injury to, or death of, the primary victim of that act, but only if:

(a) the person is the parent or guardian of the primary victim of that act, and

(b) the primary victim was under the age of 18 years at the time of that act, and

(c) the person did not commit that act.

The person is taken, for this Act, to have witnessed the act of violence.

(3) For this section, a primary victim does not include a person who is a primary victim only because of the operation of section 7 (2).

Who is a family victim? Section 9

(1) A "family victim" of an act of violence is a person who is, at the time that act is committed, a member of the immediate family of a primary victim of that act who has died as a direct result of that act.

(2) It is immaterial whether or not the person suffers a compensable injury in connection with the act of violence or death.

(3) A "member of the immediate family" of a primary victim is:

(a) the victim’s spouse, or

(b) the victim’s de facto partner who has cohabited with the victim for at least two years, or

(c) a parent, guardian or step-parent of the victim, or

(d) a child or step-child of the victim or some other child of whom the victim is the guardian, or

(e) a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister of the victim.

There are also some key exclusions from claiming victim compensation. These include victims who could also claim through other entitlement schemes (such as Medicare or workers compensation) or victims involved in traffic accidents.

Your first step should be to speak to a lawyer with some experience in victim compensation claims. It is better to do this as soon as possible, as there are time limits that apply to victim compensation claims. Apart from helping to get the process moving, a lawyer can be very helpful in breaking down the traumatic events into concrete “heads” of compensation. They can also advise you on what evidence is needed to prove a claim (such as receipts, medical reports and other evidence).

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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