MHCC Mental Health Rights Manual

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Part 6 Section F : Victims of Crime

Anyone can be a victim of crime. By definition, a victim of crime is anyone who suffers physical or emotional harm, or loss or damage to property as a direct result of a criminal offence.

If someone committed a crime against you, you should report it to the police as soon as possible. You can do this by dialling '000' or by going to a police station.

In this section of the Manual, you can find out about:

6F.1: Charter of Victims Rights

In NSW, there is a Charter to protect and promote the rights of people who are victims of crime. The Charter is set out in the Victims Rights Act 1996 (NSW) and is overseen by the Victims of Crime Bureau. The Charter provides the guiding principles on how victims of crime should be treated by government agencies: with respect, courtesy and compassion at all times, and by having their needs as victims recognised and met during service delivery.

The Charter of Victims Rights sets out the rights of victims of crime to:

  • be treated with respect, courtesy and compassion;
  • be given information about services that may be able to help, and given access to these services when needed;
  • be given information about the investigation and any legal proceedings in relation to the crime;
  • be protected from the offender; and
  • have their privacy protected.

Click here to read the full Charter of Victims Rights

6F.2: Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)

If you are a victim of violence and you require protection from the perpetrator of the violence (the person who was violent to you), you can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against that person.

An AVO is an order made by a court to protect a person by ordering the perpetrator of the violence (also called the defendant) to not do certain things. The AVO takes effect as soon as the defendant is told of the order (either when the defendant is present in court when the order is made or the defendant is told of it by the police).

There are two types of AVOs:

An AVO—including ADVO and APVO—does not result in the defendant having a criminal record, but it is a crime for the defendant to disobey the order. If you are the victim and you know the defendant has disobeyed the order, you should call the police immediately. For more information about AVOs and how to apply, click here to go to the NSW Justice & Attorney General's Local Courts in NSW website.

6F.2.1: Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs)

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order is used when there is a domestic relationship between the victim and the defendant.

In certain circumstances of domestic violence, police must apply for an ADVO on the victim's behalf.

Legal aid is available to the victim, and in special circumstances, to the defendant as well.

Please note see new rules under the The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) recognises the existence of co-tenants. Where the fixed term of the residency agreement has expired, a co-tenant may cease to be be a co-tenant by giving the landlord and other co-tenants a written termination notice of at least 21 days and vacating the premises in accordance with that notice.

Click here to read more about this. 

6F.2.2: Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs)

An Apprehended Personal Violence Order is used when there is no domestic relationship between the victim and the defendant, for example if the victim and defendant are neighbours or work colleagues.

Legal aid is not available for either the victim or the defendant. Some community legal centres may provide free legal assistance.

If someone other than the police makes the application for an APVO, the magistrate can refuse to deal with it.

6F.2.3: Protection Order for victim under 16

If you are under 16 and in need of protection from someone who is abusing you, you must contact the police so they can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on your behalf.

If you are under 16 and the police suspect that you are being abused or are likely to be abused, they must apply for an AVO on your behalf. This must happen even if you have not contacted the police about the abuse.

For more information about different types of AVOs, click here to go to the Lawlink webpage on AVOs.

6F.3: Victims' Compensation

If you were injured by an act of violence in NSW (you do not need to live in NSW) you may have a right to compensation and/or reimbursement for medical and other expenses related to the injury.

Under the Victim Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (NSW) there are three categories of 'victims' who can get compensation:

The Schedule of Injuries in the Act lists injuries for which compensation can be paid and the amounts payable for each injury. Click here to view the Schedule of Injuries.

An act of violence includes crimes such as assault, domestic violence, robbery or sexual assault.

For how to make a claim for victims' compensation, click here.

6F.3.1: Primary victim

You are a primary victim if:

  • you were injured as a result of an act of violence against you; or
  • you were injured while trying to prevent someone from committing that act of violence, or you were trying to help the victim of an act of violence,or you were trying to arrest the person who is committing or has just committed the violence.

For how to make a claim for victims' compensation, click here.

6F.3.2: Secondary victim

You are a secondary victim if:

  • you witnessed an act of violence that resulted in the victim being injured or dying and you were injured by witnessing the act of violence (this may be a psychological or psychiatric injury); or
  • you are the parent or guardian of the primary victim and you were affected by becoming aware of the act of violence committed. The primary victim must be under 18 years old when the violence happened, and you must not be the person who injured them.

For how to make a claim for victims' compensation, click here.

6F.3.3: Family victim

You are a family victim if you are a member of the immediate family of a primary victim when the act of violence was committed, and the primary victim died as a direct result of that act of violence.

For how to make a claim for victims' compensation, click here.

6F.3.4: Making a claim for victims' compensation

An application for compensation must be made within two years of the act of violence. If the application is made more than two years after the violence, an explanation for the delay must be given with the application. Permission for late applications is usually given in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse.

For more information about is eligible for compensation and how to apply, click here to go to the Victims Services' webpage on Victims Compensation. Follow the links on the Victim Services' website to learn more about the application and decision-making process for victims' compensation.

To find out more about how compensations are calculated and what kind of related expenses are covered, click here to go to the Victims Compensation webpage on Calculate your Compensation.

For information about limits on victims' compensation and how to appeal against a decision, click here.

6F.3.5: Limits on the availability of victims' compensation

Victims' compensation is not available:

  • if the injuries were caused by a motor vehicle;
  • if compensation for the injuries can be claimed through private insurance, such as workers' compensation;
  • if the injuries occurred in prison and the victim is a convicted prisoner, unless the victim is in prison because of a failure to pay a fine, or if the Victims Compensation Tribunal considers that there are special circumstances;
  • if the person was injured while they were committing a criminal offence.

If you are not happy with a decision about victims' compensation that affects you, you can appeal to the Victims Compensation Tribunal.

6F.4: Approved Counselling scheme

Counselling is recognised in the Victim Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (NSW) as an important way to support victims of crime. Free face-to-face counselling may be available:

  • if you are a primary, secondary or family victim: you may be eligible even if you have been awarded compensation, or you are entitled to workers' compensation;
  • even if your injuries from the act of violence were not considered 'compensable injuries';
  • if you are a family member of the primary victim who died as a result of the act of violence, but you're not an 'immediate' family member. For example, you're the primary victim's cousin. (This applies unless if the person who died was an offender, or was a convicted prisoner. Family members of someone who died as a result of a motor vehicle accident are not eligible unless the driver at fault has been charged with manslaughter or murder, or the death occurred in the commission of either of these offences).

The Victim Services website has information about the Approved Counselling Scheme with information on how to apply and application forms. Click here to visit the Victim Services' webpage on the Scheme.

6F.5: Legal help with victims' compensation claims

If you are applying for approved counselling or victim's compensation, you can do it yourself or through a lawyer.

A lawyer can also represent you if you need help in relation to an Apprehended Violence Order.

To find out about getting legal help, click here.

6F.6: Victims Support Services in NSW

Victims Services provides a 24-Hours Victim Support Line:
Phone: (02) 8688 5511 (Sydney)
Freecall*: 1800 633 063

Or click here for more information about how to contact the Victim Support Line.

The Victims Services website has a lot of useful information, including information about:

  • counselling and support services in NSW;
  • the justice process, from how to report a crime, to how to get ready for going to court, to how to deal with the media as a victim of crime;
  • victims' compensation; and more.

Click here to go to the Victims Services' website.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

 

Disclaimer

  • The legal and other information contained in this Section is up to date to 6 February 2011
  • This Manual only refers to the law and practices applying to the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).
  • MHCC does not guarantee the accuracy nor is responsible for the content or the currency of the content of external documents and websites linked to this Manual.