Child protection practitioners work with many children who have been victims of crime, through physical harm, sexual abuse and/or family violence. Sometimes during the investigation and assessment processes, there may be insufficient attention given to the impact crime has on the child.
Where child protection practitioners become aware a child has been a victim of crime, consideration should be given to referral (and support) of the child or family to the Victims of Crime Helpline.
The Victims Support Agency (VSA) is a central resource for victims of crime managed by the Department of Justice and Regulation. It is responsible for coordinating a whole of government approach to services for victims of crime and for representing the voice of victims within the justice system.
VSA links the victims of crime service system so that victims do not need to continuously repeat their story to a range of services.
The services available to victims of crime through VSA are:
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817
Victims of crime can call a dedicated helpline which offers information, advice and referrals to assist victims to manage and recover from the effects of crime.
Victims Assistance and Counselling Program
VSA funds a network of victims’ assistance and counselling programs (VACP) throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria. These programs provide immediate crisis response to victims of crime both in person and by telephone. They also provide access to counselling, ongoing practical support, outreach services, court support and referral and coordination of specialist support groups.
Counselling for victims of crime
Eligible victims of crime may access short term counselling to assist them in their recovery from the effects of crime.
The current eligibility criteria for access to short term counselling through a Victims Assistance and Counselling Program are:
- Primary victims of a violent crime (and related victims in the case of homicide), which occurred and was reported within the past 12 months. The crime must have occurred in Victoria.
- Victims of domestic violence who have been granted an intervention order within the past 12 months.
- People requiring ongoing counselling need to make an application through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT). Both helpline staff and victims assistance and counselling program workers are able to assist clients with applications to VOCAT.
Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT)
VOCAT considers applications for financial assistance by victims of violent crime committed in Victoria. Interim awards for counselling and financial assistance for immediate safety and medical expenses can be made quickly by registrars without the need for a hearing before a magistrate. There is a limit to the amount of funding available through these awards and applications should be made directly to VOCAT. The helpline or a victims' assistance and counselling program service can provide assistance to do this.
Victims are required to report the relevant crime to the police and to assist the police to investigate the matter, and if possible, prosecute the offender. Reported results in an intervention order may also satisfy the tribunal.
Having the police attend the scene of the incident does not constitute a police report. A full report must be made including a sworn statement to allow the police to investigate the matter fully.
If the matter has not been reported to the police at all or within a reasonable time, it will be necessary to prove to the tribunal that special circumstances exist for an application to be successful.
In considering a referral to victim support service for a client or their family, practitioners need to believe that a crime has been committed and is reportable to the police. See Police and Child Protection protocol.
Referral of individuals and families to other professionals and agencies in the service network for assistance is a core skill for child protection practitioners.