All Victims of Crime in Victoria where a crime has been committed against a person are entitled to access state funded compensation called Crimes Compensation which is administered by the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. This is akin to an insurance which all Victorians contribute to and call upon when required.
Victims of Crime are also able to seek restitution from the offender through the Sentencing Act 1991.
Section 85B Sentencing Act 1991 empowers a Court to order a person found guilty or convicted of an offence to pay compensation for “pain and suffering” by a victim. Compensation may be claimed for pain and suffering, counselling services, medical expenses and any expenses reasonably incurred as a direct result of the offence (except loss or damage to property, which is covered by s.86).
Section 86: If a court finds a person guilty of, or convicts a person of, an offence it may, on the application of a person suffering loss or destruction of, or damage to, property as a result of the offence, order the offender to pay any compensation for the loss, destruction or damage (not exceeding the value of the property lost, destroyed or damaged) that the court thinks fit.
The law currently states that a victim may use either system or both but they cannot double-dip. Such a condition gives very little incentive for the victim to pursue restitution from the offender and I would suggest that the removal of this clause from the legislation.
I would also suggest that restitution should be automatically ordered by the court on behalf of every victim of a serious crime under the Sentencing Act.
At the end of the day it is the offender that should be held accountable for the damage and harm they have caused their victim.
For further advice contact Victims of Crime Counselling Services on Freecall 1800 000 055.