Compensation for family violence survivors

Civil claim for damages

If a person who has experienced family violence has suffered substantial injury (usually serious physical injury), it is possible to institute civil proceedings for damages against the perpetrator in the state courts. However, this is a costly, lengthy and risky process that requires expert legal advice. Also, time limits apply for initiating civil proceedings.

Compensation through VOCAT

The most accessible source of monetary compensation is from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT), which operates in the Magistrates’ Court under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic). (See VOCAT in “Contacts”.)

VOCAT provides financial assistance to those who have experienced violent crime committed in Victoria. VOCAT compensates people for expenses incurred as a direct result of the crime (e.g. medical, safety related and funeral expenses, and lost earnings). There are different prescribed categories of “victim” and different types of benefits and entitlements that can be claimed. For example, a person who has experienced family violence can seek compensation for expenses, and also special financial assistance for pain and suffering. This is a complicated area and it is important to obtain legal advice. (See Assistance for victims of crime.)

Compensation under the Sentencing Act

Under section 85B of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), it is possible to obtain an order for compensation against the perpetrator in a state court if they are convicted of a criminal offence. You should seek legal advice about this course of action.