What is the Role of the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal?

lawyer writing on desk

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) supports applications for financial assistance in Victoria.

VOCAT works with victims of violent crimes to assist with their recovery by paying for expenses that have been incurred.

The Tribunal understands the legal challenges that victims of crime may encounter and seeks to alleviate the financial stress caused during these difficult circumstances.

VOCAT offers a helping hand and a compassionate forum for applicants to discuss their experiences.

Victims of crime can be covered for expenses that have already been incurred or are likely to come up in the future because of a crime.

It is underpinned by the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, which has three core objectives:

  1. to assist victims of crime in their recovery by paying financial assistance
  2. to pay certain victims of crime financial assistance to express the community’s sympathy and condolence for the adverse impacts experienced or suffered
  3. to provide victims of crime with financial assistance in the event when compensation for the injury cannot be obtained from the offender.

In addition, the Act promises to provide financial assistance that is in line with compensation that victims may be entitled to under common law.

Fiona McCormack is the Victims of Crime Commissioner, who said the Act listens to victims.

“Financial assistance should be about giving victims the support they need, when they need it—it should not be about cross-examining victims or making them attend court to plead for more funding for counselling.”

Changes To The Victims Of Crime Assistance Tribunal

In July, VOCAT welcomed the Victorian Government’s Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) Bill.

The FAS will replace VOCAT in the second half of 2023.

The scheme will offer a renewed focus for victims of crime compensation. It will also be supported by the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Act 2022.

“For too many years victims have experienced frustration and trauma dealing with the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. They have deserved better and that’s why I have continued to advocate for a more flexible, trauma-informed approach to financial assistance for victims,” Ms McCormack said.

Like the current victims of crime assistance tribunal in Victoria, the FAS will help with costs associated with violent crimes, including:

  • medical expenses
  • counselling support
  • loss of earnings
  • other expenses to help victims recover.

“This will ensure victims are protected and any breaches of Charter principles can be addressed which is not currently possible with VOCAT.”

“I have heard from too many victims of crime that the current system is traumatic. Victims are dealing with the real-life consequences of VOCAT delay—victims of crime are in dire financial circumstances following victimisation,” Ms McCormack said.

Seek Help

The Victims of Crime Compensation team at RV Legal offers a compassionate approach to legal affairs after a traumatic event.

All our expenses are covered by the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.

For more information, please contact us.