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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 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 dialing ‘000’ or by going to a police station.

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

  • The NSW Charter of Victims’ Rights
  • Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)
  • Protection orders for people under 16
  • Victims’ compensation
  • Getting legal help as a victim
  • Victim’s support services in NSW

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 and Support Act 2013 (NSW) and is overseen by Victims Services, which is a division of the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. The Charter provides the guiding principles on how victims of crime should be treated by government agencies.

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

  • Respect: You will be treated with courtesy, compassion, cultural sensitivity and respect for your rights and dignity.
  • Information about services and remedies: You will be told as soon as possible about the different services that can help you, including counselling and legal services.
  • Access to services: If you need medical, counselling and legal help, you will be able to get it if it is available.
  • Information about the investigation of the crime: If you ask, you will be told about how the police investigation is going as much as possible.
  • Information about prosecution of accused (taking the accused to court for a crime): You will be told what the charges, the date and place of the court hearing, the final court result. If the prosecution is thinking about changing or dropping the charges, they will talk to you about this if the crime was a serious sex crime, or caused you physical harm, psychological or psychiatric harm. However, the prosecution don’t have to talk to you if you don’t want to talk about it, or they can’t find you.
  • Information about trial process and role as witness: If you have to give evidence as a witness in a trial, you will be told about how the trial works and what you have to do.
  • Protection from contact with accused: While your case is in court, you will be protected from contact with the accused and the defence witnesses.
  • Protection of identity of victim: You can keep your address and phone numbers private unless the court says differently.
  • Attendance at preliminary hearings: You do not have to go to any committal hearing (like a mini trial) or other court business before the trial unless the court says you must.
  • Return of property held by the government: If the police or prosecution took any of your goods as evidence, you have the right to get them back as soon as possible.
  • Protection from accused: If you need protection, tell the police or prosecution when the accused applies for bail.
  • Information about special bail conditions: You will be told about any special bail conditions the accused is given, which are meant to protect you or your family, like a condition which says the accused must not contact you.
  • Information about outcome of bail application: If you were the victim of sexual assault or other serious assault you will be told if the accused gets bail or not.
  • Victim impact statement: In some cases, you may be able to tell the court about how the crime has affected you and you will be given help and support to do this. This is called giving a ‘victim impact statement.’
  • Information about impending release, escape or eligibility for absence from custody: If the offender is in gaol, you can be told if the offender is going to be released from gaol soon, has escaped gaol or is on day release.
  • Submissions on parole and eligibility for absence from custody of serious offenders: You can have a say if the offender applies for parole for serious crimes.
  • Financial assistance for victims of personal violence: If you have been injured as a result of serious personal violence, you may be eligible for financial assistance under the Victims Support Scheme.
  • Information about complaint procedure where Charter is breached: You can make a complaint if you think your rights under the Charter have not been met. You can ask for information about how to do this.

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) not to 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:

  • Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs); and
  • Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs).

An AVO by itself does not result in the defendant having a criminal record. However, it is a crime for the defendant to breach (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)

Domestic and family violence includes any behaviour, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear. It is usually exhibited as part of a pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour.

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order is used when there is a domestic relationship between the victim and the defendant. Domestic relationships between two people have a broad definition in law in NSW and can include marriage, a de facto relationship, an intimate personal relationship (whether or not of a sexual nature), living in the same household, being long-term residents of the same residential facility, a relationship of ongoing unpaid care or relationships being relatives. In the case of an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander, domestic relationships include the extended family or kin of the other person according to the Indigenous kinship system of the person’s culture. 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.

Women’s Domestic Violence Advocacy Services provides free information and support across NSW for the process of applying for an ADVO.

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’ compensation

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); and
  • 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:

  • Primary victims
  • Immediate family victims

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

For details about 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 financial support you may be entitled to as a family member of a homicide 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

An application for a victims’ recognition payment must be made within two (2) years of the act of violence except in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. If the application is made more than two (2) years after the violence, an explanation for the delay must be given with the application.

A ten (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 eighteen (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; or
  • 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

You can apply for victims’ support 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:

Freecall*: 1800 633 063

Aboriginal Contact Line: 1800 019 123 Or

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

These 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; and
  • victims’ compensation.

Click here to go to the Victims’ Services’ website.

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

Please find some other victims’ support services below:

  • Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services: WDVCASs are locally-based, not-for-profit service providers. They service 117 local courts across NSW and provide women and their children who have experienced domestic and family violence with information, advocacy and referrals. They can be contacted on 1800 WDVCAS (1800 938 227).
  • 1800 RESPECT: A national, confidential information, counselling and support service accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be called on 1800 RESPECT and they provide an online chat service.
  • Family Advocacy and Support Services: Support services providing information, advocacy and referrals for people affected by family violence in family law courts. They can be called on 9219 6300.
  • Link 2 Home: This service finds emergency accommodation in NSW and can be called on 1800 152 152 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
  • MensLine: This service provides phone support and referral for males affected by domestic and family violence (for victims and men who use violence). They can be contacted on 1300 789 978 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Updated May 28, 2020