We were approached by a victim of an armed robbery while at work who described his experience with the Victims Support Agency (VSA) as a “total waste of time”. The victim said that shortly after the incident he contacted the Victims Support Helpline administered by the Victims Support Agency enquiring about his Crime Compensation entitlements and was referred to the Northern Victims Assistance & Counselling Program (VACP). He said that he rang this VACP and again told his story to the receptionist who informed him that someone would contact him. He said that several weeks went past and he again called the VACP and again told his story and was again ensured that someone would call him. Several more weeks passed when he received a call and an appointment was made and he again visited the VACP and again repeated his story to a Case Manager who said that she would refer it to an in-house counsellor. The victim said that he now felt very confused as he was not receiving the assistance he required and left and waited to be again contacted. He said that about a month later he was contacted and an appointment was made to see a counsellor and he attended that appointment several weeks later. He said that he was told during this appointment that it was compulsory for him to attend three counselling sessions with this counsellor before he could be referred on to another counsellor who could assist him with further counselling and possibly his Crime Compensation matter. The victim then asked if he could choose his own counsellor and he was told that he could but he stood the risk that the counsellor would not be paid as it was not approved by the VACP. Towards the end of this meeting he said that the counsellor realized that the incident occurred at work and therefore he would need to seek counselling through Workcover. The victim said that he left feeling totally re-traumatized as he had received no assistance whatsoever and in fact wasted some six months waiting for this process to unfold only to be told to go elsewhere. This was ironically possibly the best advice he was given throughout his ordeal with the VSA as it gave him the opportunity to approach our organization which assisted him immediately.
We have repeatedly requested that both the Attorney General and Shadow Attorney General investigate the Victims Support Agency which according to all available research has been failing victims of crime time after time.
If you have had a similar experience we would like to hear from you.