• Laura Foley

Common Misconceptions surrounding Victims of Crime Compensation Claims (VOCAT)

VOCAT claims are largely recovery based, not compensatory

It is common for Victims to feel like the amounts awarded fall short of expectations and there are times where our firm can appreciate this. What is not widely understood by many of our clients initially is that the VOCAT model, although titled ‘Victims of Crime Compensation’, is not necessarily compensatory. The term ‘compensation’ typically refers to large sums of money, awarded to someone in recognition of loss, suffering or injury.

Whilst many of our clients endure loss, suffering and injury, the VOCAT model is recovery based, designed to award amounts that are determined by the Tribunal member to provide victims with the opportunity to recover. Special Financial Assistance is a claimable ‘lump sum’ amount which can be claimed for Primary victims in recognition for their pain and suffering. However, there are specific parameters whereby crimes that have occurred fall under that determined amount awarded. The amount awarded reflects the Tribunal member’s decision on what they determine will provide you with opportunity for rehabilitation, and recognition for your suffering.

A solicitor cannot recommend what you should claim

Many of our clients ask our VOCAT team what they should claim for. Whilst we can provide information about what assistance is available to you as a victim of crime, we cannot recommend exactly what you should claim. There must be a causative link between the act of violence and claimable items sought by the victim, and this must be supported by expert evidence. Claimable expenses include but are not limited to psychology expenses, medical expenses, safety-related expenses, loss of earnings, clothing damaged and worn at the time of the violence, and other expenses.

It is a requirement for all our clients to participate in psychology, as not only a means to assist our client’s mental wellbeing, but also for an expert psychological report to be provided to the Tribunal to support the claim. This report often details the extent of psychological injuries which have occurred and can include recommendations in the report writer’s professional opinion of what will assist the client in recovering from the crime.

For all medical expenses, we must have supporting documentation from a medical practitioner which details the extent of injuries occurred, and how the associated expenses are direct resulting costs from the crime.

All too often we find that clients provide our firm with a list of claimable expenses to include in their claim without any supporting documentation. It is important to keep in mind that in order to give your claim the best possible chance of success, all items sought must be supported by expert evidence detailing how they directly relate to the crime. Whilst our firm wishes we could determine what you are awarded, the amount that is awarded at the finalisation of your claim is determined by the Tribunal member.

If someone you know has received an award for VOCAT, it does not mean that you will receive the same award.

Often we find that our clients know someone who has been through the process of a VOCAT claim, and have received an award. Despite similarities in the act of violence that has occurred, it does not mean that you will receive the same award. Many variables come into play which the Tribunal member takes into consideration, such as;

· The extent of the injury that has occurred, whether it is physical, psychological or both;

· what the act of violence was;

· If the act of violence has been reported by the police;

· Whether the offender has been charged and sentenced;

· How long ago did the crime occur;

· Whether you can obtain documentation to support the expenses you wish to claim

Taking into consideration the differing variables, no two claims are alike. Hence, it is advisable to not compare your claim to that of someone else’s, rather seek advice from one of our VOCAT solicitors.

Damages to property, lost, and stolen items cannot be claimed

On several occasions, an ‘act of violence’ has caused damage to a client’s property, and there are many times where our firm can appreciate the distress it causes. Unfortunately, the VOCAT model does not support claims for damages to property. As the VOCAT model is focused on recovery, it does not compensate for damaged property, but rather focuses on providing an award to a victim to help them on the path of recovery. Similarly, for lost and stolen items, VOCAT does not support claiming for these expenses.

03 9117 6189 | admin@galeafaustinsolicitors.com.au

The contents of this post are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. Please seek legal advice prior to relying on this information.

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