Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Victims of Crime

VICTIMS OF CRIME

 

Who is a “victim of crime”?

What rights and protections do I have as a victim?

How can I protect myself from being hurt again?

Can I get money to help with my injuries?

If you want to talk to someone

How can I report a crime?

What happens when I report the crime?

Will I have to go to court?

What is a victim impact statement?

Can I get further information about an offender in custody?

Who is a “victim of crime”?

A victim of crime is a person who has suffered or has been affected because of crime.   It can include the victim themself, someone who saw the crime, like a witness, or the family members of the victim.    For example, if you saw someone being hurt or killed, you could be considered a victim of crime. 
Examples of crimes where there is a victim include things like physical assault, theft, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse and car crashes. 
Being a victim of any crime can badly impact a person’s life.  It’s important to recognise when you or someone you know has been a victim and what you can do about it. Victims have special rights and this will be explored below.


What rights and protections do I have as a victim?


As a victim of crime, you have special rights.

This includes:
  • being treated with courtesy, compassion, cultural sensitivity and respect for your rights and dignity.
  • being told as early as possible of the services and remedies available. 
  • having access to welfare, health, counselling and legal assistance that you need. 
  • asking for an update on the progress of the investigation of the crime (although the police may have to keep some things confidential). 
  • being told information about the prosecution of the accused (meaning the person who has been charged with a crime), including the charges, the date of the trial and the outcome of criminal proceedings. 
  • being told about any bail (meaning the release of a person waiting to go to court) conditions imposed on the accused that are designed to protect you or your family.
You also have the right to privacy and protection:
  • Your personal details (e.g. residential address, phone number) will be kept confidential unless the court orders otherwise.
  • You will be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused and other defence witnesses during court proceedings.
  • If you need protection from the accused, you should tell a police officer.

If you have any questions about your rights as a victim of crime please contact the Victims Services’ Victims Access Line between 8:00am and 6:00pm, Monday to Friday, on 1800 633 0631800 633 063 FREE. You can visit their website here.

You can make a complaint if you think that your rights under the Charter of Victims Rights have been breached.   For more information about making a complaint, click here LINK:. http://www.victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/fs27_charter-complaints.pdf

 

How can I protect myself from being hurt again?

If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000.

If you think that the offender (meaning the person who has committed a crime) will harm you again you should contact a police officer. You can find your nearest police station here by typing your postcode under the subheading ‘Your Police’.

The police will tell you what you can do and might suggest an order to stop the offender from coming near or harming you.  These orders are called an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) or an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO).  These orders mean that a person may not be able to come within a certain distance of your home or work, or contact you, including over the internet.

The ADVO is used for any violence that has happened within a domestic relationship (meaning ‘family’). A domestic relationship includes relationships between married and de facto couples, relatives and people who live in the same house.

An APVO is used for all other forms of violence (that did not happen between family members).
Examples of when  ADVO/APVO can be used include when someone is violent towards you, threatens you or your property, or harasses or scares you. You also need to think that it will happen again and that it didn’t happen just one time.
You can apply for an ADVO/APVO in two ways:
  •  A police officer can apply on your behalf (called a ‘police application’); or
  • You can personally apply through the local court (called a ‘private application’).

If you are under 16 years of age, the police must apply for an ADVO/APVO on your behalf.

For more information on ADVO/APVOs, click here LINK: http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications/factsheets-and-resources/apprehended-violence-orders-applicants.


Can I get money to help with my injuries?

If you have suffered a physical or mental injury, or a close relative dies as a result of a crime that has been proved or acquitted then you may be able to apply for compensation.  You can get compensation if you are:
  • personally injured through an act of violence
  • are a parent or guardian of a child who was injured in an act of violence
  • you witnessed an act of violence, or you are injured because you found out about it   
  • you are the immediate family (for example spouses or siblings) of someone who dies as a result of violence  
 
If you want to apply for compensation you have to do this within 2 years of the crime.  To fill out the application form, click here LINK: http://www.victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/vss/VS_forms.aspx#smartform
If your parent or guardian needs some help filling out the form on your behalf please invite them to send us a Lawmail.

 

If you want to talk to someone

It is important to talk to someone if you have been a victim of a crime. So if you can’t talk to one of your friends or a family member, or you just want to talk to someone with experience there are different services available.
The Victims of Crime Assistance League Inc provides a wide range of support including information, counselling, court preparation and court support. The League also provides lots of information on different topics, such as Victim Impact Statements, the parole and sentencing process and stories from other victims. You can email The Victim Support Unit at ceo@vocal.org.au or call them on (02) 4926 2711(02) 4926 2711.
Enough is Enough has a wide range of support groups based in the Sutherland Shire, Sydney including Kids and Teens Support Group and the Domestic Violence Support Group. You can check out their brochure of services and support groups here LINK: http://enoughisenough.org.au/uploads/05d0a7855833578914308a48d2678c9f364b9b83.pdf. You can also call Enough is Enough during business hours on (02) 9542 4029(02) 9542 4029.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or family and/or domestic violence you can call 1800 RESPECT  24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 737 7321800 737 732 FREE. They give specialised counselling and support for victims of this crime. You can also chat to a counsellor online here LINK: http://enoughisenough.org.au/uploads/05d0a7855833578914308a48d2678c9f364b9b83.pdf. 

 

How can I report a crime?

If you are in an emergency, call 000 for help immediately. An emergency situation is when there is a serious risk to life or safety or a crime is currently being committed.
For crimes which are not emergencies, you can:
1.    Report a crime over the phone by ringing the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444. This line is open 24 hours 7 days a week; PAL lets you report crime over the phone.

If the crime you want to report can’t be talked about over the phone because it is serious, the operator will tell you where you can go to make the report, or they can arrange for police to come and see you.
2.    Report a crime in person by visiting a local police station. Find your nearest police station here LINK: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/about_us/structure/operations_command/local_area_commands/police_station_search
Most police stations will have access to Domestic Violence Officers, Youth Liaison Officers, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers if they are needed. When reporting a crime, try to keep any evidence that you have because this may assist police.
If you are unsure about reporting a crime or whether a crime has occurred please send us a Lawmail here.

 

What happens when I report the crime?


The police will first begin investigating the crime by talking to the victim and any witnesses. In most circumstances, you are entitled to know about the progress of the investigation.
If the police plan to charge someone, the victim should be told what the charges are, when the court hearing will be, and what the result of the case is, and what the punishment has been.
If the police don’t charge anyone, or they change the charge, they should tell the victim why this has happened.



Will I have to go to court?

If the defendant pleads guilty, you and other witnesses are not usually required to give evidence.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will most likely go to a trial and you may be asked to give evidence.  If this happens, you will be given a court notice telling you when you need to go to court.  If you are given a notice, you have to go to court or else you could get in trouble.  If you are worried about giving evidence, you should talk to the police officer or prosecution officer in charge of your case and see what they can do.

In some cases, you can give evidence over audio-visual link if you are very worried about being in the courtroom with the defendant (the person the police have charged).


What is a victim impact statement?


A victim impact statement gives you the opportunity to tell the court about how the crime has affected you.    You do not have to give a Victim Impact Statement unless you want to.
You can learn more about Victim Impact Statements here: http://www.odpp.nsw.gov.au/victims-witnesses/victim-impact-statements.

 

Can I get further information about an offender in custody?

If you are a victim of crime and you want information about an offender who is in gaol, you may be eligible to be listed on a Victims Register.
The Victims Register will let you know when an offender is going to be released from gaol. If you are listed on the Victims Register, you can make a written submission stating how you feel about the offender re-entering the community.
If you are unsure about which register to contact, or are seeking other information about support available for victims of crime, you may contact the Victim AccessLine on (02) 8688 5511(02) 8688 5511 or 1800 633 0631800 633 063 FREE (toll free) or visit the Victims Register’s website here:
http://www.victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/vss/Hidden/VS_safety7.aspx#victims. 

 This page was last updated on the 13th of June 2015