Last updated 12 September 2018
The Victims of Crime Assistance scheme (VOCA scheme) is a complementary scheme of financial assistance, which means victims are generally required to access other available sources of assistance before receiving a grant under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 (Qld) (VOCA Act).
The VOCA Act requires a victim to apply for eligible compensation from a workers’ compensation scheme (ss 31–34 VOCA Act), compulsory third party insurer (ss 36A–F VOCA Act) or the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland (ss 36G–J VOCA Act).
A workers’ compensation application must be finally dealt with prior to a victim applying for financial assistance under the VOCA Act. If an individual has been injured in an act of violence at work or while travelling to or from their place of employment, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The VOCA Act contains specific provisions for dealing with applications where an act of violence is work related. A workers’ compensation application must be made and finalised before an application for financial assistance can be considered. The Victim Assist Queensland assessor will assess expense components that are not available under a workers’ compensation claim, namely:
- damage to clothing
- legal expenses incurred in applying for financial assistance
- certain other expenses required to recover from the act of violence (other expenses exceptional circumstances).
If a person is entitled to make a motor accident insurance claim in relation to the act of violence, the person may apply for financial assistance under the VOCA Act. However, the assessor must defer deciding the application for financial assistance until the insurance claim is finally dealt with (s 36D VOCA Act). Assistance for counselling is the only exception to this—the assessor must decide the application in relation to counselling expenses (s 36F VOCA Act).
If a person is entitled to make an application to the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland (NIISQ), in relation to a motor vehicle accident, the person may apply for financial assistance under the VOCA Act. However, the assessor may defer deciding the application for financial assistance until the NIISQ application is decided (s 36I VOCA Act). However, the assessor must decide the application to the extent that it relates to all components of assistance except medical expenses. A concurrent deferral under ss 36D and 36I of the VOCA Act would prevent the assistance being granted for any components except counselling expenses.
Other common sources of relevant payments include:
- private health insurance
- income protection or household insurance.
Assessors are required to take these relevant payments and rebates into account and reduce any assistance granted by an amount equal to the relevant payment when determining a grant of assistance, and can request a victim to provide supporting documentation from relevant agencies (s 86 VOCA Act).
The assessor will advise the victim of their intention to reduce the grant of assistance due to the relevant payment and invite submissions within 28 days, which are considered prior to making a decision to reduce the grant of assistance (s 88 VOCA Act).
Victim Assist Queensland asks applicants for assistance to disclose any relevant payment they have received. It is an offence to provide false or misleading particulars to an official in relation to an application (s 141 VOCA Act).
Because the nature of the scheme is to provide assistance as soon as reasonably practicable, assessors may place a condition on the grant that the applicant advise the department of any relevant payment, including that they repay the amount.
Nothing in the VOCA Act limits or takes away from a victim’s common law rights to pursue an offender or other person responsible for an act of violence (s 22 VOCA Act).
In circumstances where a victim has a concurrent common law action, assessment of their application for financial assistance would continue unless the common law action had been decided or settled, at which point any damages received would be taken into account.