The victim, the offender, and privacy
Compensation for Victims
There are three classes of victims under the VOCA Act primary, secondary and related victims. A primary victim may receive a maximum of $30,000; a secondary victim may receive a maximum of $20,000; and a related victim can receive a maximum of $10,000. Multiple claims by related victims in reference to the one incident can receive a maximum of $50,000. The amount to be awarded is decided at the sole discretion of the Commisioner.
A primary victim is the person who was the victim of the offence, such as the person who suffered psychological harm and needed counselling after an aggravated burglary. If there are two single occurrences of criminal conduct upon the same person, sufficiently separated in time, that person could be entitled to a maximum of $30,000 in respect of each occurrence.
An example of a related victim would be a widow who sees her husband murdered. She may claim as a related victim in respect of her own pain and suffering arising from the impairment of her mental health as a result of the criminal conduct. Since there is only one incident of criminal conduct and only one person entitled to an award, the maximum compensation would be $30,000.
But where, for example, one man, who is both a a husband and a father is murdered, each person who is a dependent, a parter and children, would be entitled to a maximum of $30,000.
A secondary victim is either a person who suffers injury as a result of witnessing an offence or a parent, step-parent or guardian of a primary victim who was under 18 years of age at the time of the offence (s2).
Compensation is payable for pain and suffering, for treatment (psychological or physical) for injury arising from the offence, and loss of wages or salary due to incapacity arising from the offence (s4). If there are outstanding fines, compensation levies, or penalties under the Sentencing Act, these amounts will be deducted from the compensation award before being paid to the applicant (s6B).
The VOCA Act requires the Commissioner to make an order against the offender for the amount of compensation paid (s7A). This is collected as a fine against the offender by the Monetary Penalties Enforcement Unit. In most cases, the offender will thus become aware that the applicant has been awarded compensation. The offender has a right to apply to see the reports filed in relation to the application for compensation, and by which the Commissioner made the decision. This means that an offender, if so interested, can become aware of the impact of the offence on the victim.
Applications for compensation are heard in private, and every effort is made to preserve the anonymity of applicants. Publication of proceedings is forbidden (s8). A report is forwarded to the Attorney-General each year with a resume of cases decided. No names or other means of identification are contained in these.
Page last updated 14/12/2017