How we helped a victim of crime receive fairer compensation

How we helped a victim of crime receive fairer compensation

Victims of crime who receive compensation such as WorkCover can find it difficult to also get financial help for lost earnings from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).

To help Paul* get compensation we successfully challenged the fairness of previous VOCAT decisions. Now other victims of crime might also be compensated for any shortfall between WorkCover and what they would have earned had they not experienced an act of violence.

Paul’s story

Paul worked as a bouncer at a suburban pub. One night, when he was the only bouncer on duty, a drunk man started making trouble and Paul had to escort him outside.

The man then returned and tried to throw a punch at the barman. Paul had to restrain him but was headbutted and then punched in the face.

After the attack Paul couldn’t work any more. He developed post traumatic stress disorder and experienced extreme anxiety and depression. He couldn’t go anywhere that triggered memories of the attack. So he hardly left his room.

Paul received WorkCover payments but these didn’t make up for his lost earnings. His reduced income forced him to move into a rooming house, which made his mental illness worse.

Paul called our Legal Help phoneline to find out about his rights as a victim of crime. We arranged for him to come in and have a face-to-face advice session with one of our lawyers. He then received a grant of legal aid for us to take on his case.

We represented Paul at VOCAT and applied for financial compensation to make up the difference between his WorkCover payments and what he would have received in wages.

VOCAT caps compensation for loss of earnings at $20,000 over two years. As he had already received more than $20,000 over two years from WorkCover, Paul was told he might not qualify to be compensated for loss of earnings as a victim of crime.

We challenged this and argued that it would be fairer to calculate Paul’s total amount of lost earnings, deduct the WorkCover amount, and then apply the cap.

Our challenge was successful and Paul received a payment that made up for the shortfall. The magistrate also awarded Paul an extra payment to help him leave the rooming house and get private rental accommodation.

The first thing Paul did was move into a place of his own. He’s looking forward to moving on and putting the assault behind him.

How we can help you

If you have been a victim of crime and are unsure of your rights, find out how you can get help.

*not his real name