Victims Services provides support, information, referrals, counselling and compensation services to victims of violent crimes and witnesses to violent crimes. It also provides compensation and counselling services to relatives of someone who has died as a result of a violent crime. Victims Services is part of the Department of Attorney General and Justice.
NSW has established a Charter of Victims Rights to protect and promote the rights of victims of crime. The Charter requires government agencies and a range of service providers, such as non-government organisations and contractors funded by the State, to meet the needs of victims in a range of ways.
Victims Services have also produced a version of the Charter in a format that is appropriate for young people as well as a range of tools to familiarise children with court processes.
Information about accessing compensation, approved counselling and other services for victims of crime can be obtained from the Victims Access Line (VAL), an information and referral support service, which provides a range of services including information about accessing Victims Registers and preparation of Victim Impact Statements.
Victim Access Line (VAL)
1800 633 063 (toll free from a landline)
8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday
If you are an Aboriginal and a victim of crime, call:
Aboriginal Contact Line
1800 019 123 (freecall number)
8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday
VAL also provides a walk in service where clients may meet with a Referral and support officer to discuss their support needs as victims of crime at its Parramatta Office.
A child or young person who has been abused or neglected may receive counselling from:
- NSW Health Sexual Assault Service
- NSW Health Child Protection Counselling Service (formerly known as Physical Abuse and Neglect of Children PANOC)
- a private counselling service
- Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Counsellors (CASAC) services
- Victims Services Approved Counselling Scheme.
The Victims Services Approved Counselling Scheme can provide up to 22 hours of free counselling to any victim of violent crime (sexual assault, domestic violence [including child witnesses], physical assault, armed robbery and homicide). Any counsellor providing this service to children must have proven their capacity to provide therapeutic services to children.
Victims, or services working on behalf of victims, can complete an online form to apply for counselling.
A convicted offender does not need to be identified for a victim to qualify for counselling or compensation, although the victim needs to be able to provide substantiation of the act of violence.
An eligible victim can contact Victims Services and make an appointment to speak to one of the case managers who can assist with completing their compensation claim. The case manager will explain and assist the victim through the process of the claiming for compensation and Victims Services can, with the victim’s consent, obtain their medical records and information to assist in the claim.
In the cases requiring a care plan, case managers are encouraged to explore options for victims compensation on behalf of children and young people. This approach is consistent with recommendations from the NSW Ombudsman’s 2010 report highlighting the need to better support children and young people in statutory care who have been victims of violent crime.
If a child or young person receives a large sum of money as compensation, talk to them about the financial implications. See the factsheet Preparing young people to receive a large sum of money for practical suggestions and advice.
Children as witnesses in criminal proceedings
A child or young person who is appearing as a witness to give evidence in criminal proceedings may have special needs for information to assist their understanding of the court process and procedures. An adult to support them through the court process may also be required.
In matters where a child or young person is a victim or witness and is being called on to give evidence, the solicitor for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should meet with the child or young person and their parents/carers before the proceedings begin to:
- assess the child or young persons competence to give evidence, including their language and concentration skills and understanding of time and locality
- decide whether a pre-recorded statement will be the main evidence
- understand the child or young persons level of anxiety in relation to the proceedings.
All children and young persons appearing as witnesses have the right to:
- the presence of a support person while giving evidence
- give their main evidence in the form of a recording, wholly or partly
- give all their evidence by closed circuit television (CCTV), or when CCTV facilities are not available, by alternative arrangements.
The Witness Assistance Service works closely with agencies to ensure young witnesses and their carers receive counselling and support.
Supporting Victims of Crime
Under the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 out-of-home care casework practitioners must identify and respond to the needs of children and young people who have been victims of crime.
DCJ casework practitioners can refer to the Supporting victims of crime mandate and NGO casework practitioners can refer to the Supporting Victims of Crime Guidelines and the Recommendation for application to Victims Services for information about supporting, understanding and meeting their responsibilities towards victims of crime.