MHCC Mental Health Rights Manual

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Chapter 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 Services, which is a division of the NSW Department of Justice. 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’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.

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 unless there are special circumstances. . 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 a 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 and read about AVOs.

6F.3: Victims' Support

There are four basis categories of assistance available to victims of crime in NSW:

  • Counselling
  • Immediate needs (financial assistance) (for example, funds to pay for funeral expenses or to clean up a crime scene)
  • Economic loss (financial assistance) (for example to pay for medical expenses and other out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the crime)
  • Recognition payments

For more detailed information about the types of support available to victims of crime in NSW follow this link.

Your eligibility for each form of assistance will depend upon your relationship to the crime. There are two categories of ‘victims’ who can get victims’ support:

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

For how to make a claim for a victims’ recognition payment, 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.

Primary victims of crime are eligible for all four forms of victims support.

For how to make a claim for a victims’ recognition payment, click here.

6F.3.2: Immediate family victim

You are a family victim if you are a member of the immediate family, including a dependent family member 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.

To find out what forms of victims support you may be entitled to as a family member of a primary victim of crime, follow this link.

For how to make a claim for victims’ support, see below.

6F.3.3: Making an application for victims’ recognition payment

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, see below.

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

Except in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, an application for a victims’ recognition payment 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.

A 10 year time limit applies to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Special rules apply to children and young people. A person may make an application for a victims’ recognition payment for a crime that occurred when they were a child within two years after they turn 18. There is no time limit for such applications for people who were victims of sexual assault as children.

For more information about who is eligible for victims’ support and how to apply, click here to go to the Victims’ Services’ webpage on financial support for victims.

This link will also tell you more about the application and decision-making process for victims’ support applications.

For information about limits on victims’ support and how to appeal against a decision, see below.

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

Victims' support 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: Legal help with Victims' Support Applications

If you are applying for victims’ support, 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.5: Victims Support Services in NSW

Victims Services provides a Victim Access Line and an Aboriginal Contact Line for victims of crime: 

Phone: (02) 8688 5511 (Sydney)
Freecall*: 1800 633 063
Aboriginal Contact Line: 1800 019 123

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

This telephone information and referral services operate between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), but if you call outside these times you will be provided with other options.

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 30 January 2015
  • This Manual only refers to the law and practices applying to the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) - unless it states otherwise.
  • 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.