Queensland victims of violent crime now have access to a compensation and recovery scheme after the Victims of Crime Assistance Bill 2009 was introduced into Parliament on 18 August 2009.
The Victim Assist Queensland scheme commenced on 1 December 2009, ending the right of victims to claim under the current criminal compensation schemes of the Criminal Offence Victims Act 1995 and the Criminal Code 1899.
The Victim Assistance Scheme focuses on victim recovery by paying for, or reimbursing, the costs of goods and services that the victim requires to help them recover from the physical and psychological effects of the crime. It marks a significant change of focus from criminal compensation to financial assistance and support for victims.
The Act provides for victims to receive a grant of up to $500 for legal costs incurred in applying for assistance under the Act.
Some of the goods and services costs that may be covered by the scheme include reasonable travel expenses, counselling sessions, medical expenses that are not covered by medical insurance or Medicare, loss of earnings up to $20,000, funeral expenses if the victim is deceased, and reasonable relocation or security expenses.
The Act also broadens the range of victims who are able to seek assistance. Parents who suffer an injury as result of an act of violence being committed against their child can seek assistance as they are viewed as a parent secondary victim. The Department of Justice and the Attorney-General website gives the case example of a mother suffering depression due to her child being seriously assaulted.
Witnesses of acts of violence and “related victims”, such as close family or dependants of a person who has died, will also be able to access the scheme.
For more information about Victim Assist Queensland and victim compensation, visit the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General website at www.justice.qld.gov.au or contact your local solicitor.