State funded compensation

There are some circumstances in which a victim of crime (or the near relative of someone who died as a result of a crime) can claim money from the Government to go some way towards compensating for injury.  Injury can include mental illness, shock, or pregnancy if they are a result of the crime, but does not include property loss or damage.  For example, it will not cover the cost of replacing a stolen car or items burgled from a home, nor clothing or personal belongings damaged in an assault.

You do not necessarily need to know who the offender was, or wait for the offender to be convicted of the crime, to apply for compensation.  However, you do have to make the claim within 3 years of the offence, or 1 year if the victim of the  offence died.  However, for children, the time limits start when they turn 18.

Compensation is initially paid from public funds, but the Government can require the offender to pay it back, if he or she is able to.  You should discuss this in greater detail with your lawyer when asking him or her to make your victims compensation claim.

If you need money urgently, you might be entitled to an interim (or emergency) payment.  You can get advice on interim payments from your lawyer.  If you are granted an interim payment, this amount will be deducted from any other compensation you receive under the victims compensation scheme.

The victims compensation scheme is there to provide help when you cannot receive it from any other source.  If you have other sources of compensation available to you (such as insurance or WorkCover), the victims compensation payable to you may be reduced accordingly.

How much can be claimed

You can claim compensation for pain and suffering, financial losses such as loss of earnings or reduced ability to earn, and for past and future treatment costs.  If your claim is accepted, the amount you will receive will depend on several factors:

  • when the offence happened;
  • how severe the injury was (or is);
  • whether you are found to have contributed to the offence or to the injury;
  • whether you co-operated with the police investigation and prosecution; and,
  • for offences after 1 January 2003, whether you have taken reasonable steps to keep your loss to a minimum.

How much compensation is payable depends on the date of the offence and the law on that date. For offences committed:

  • Between 1969 and 1974 the maximum payable is $1,000
  • Between 1975 and 1977 the maximum payable is $2,000
  • Between 1978 and 31 July 1987 the maximum payable is $10,000
  • Between 1 August 1987 and 30 August 1990 the maximum payable is $20,000
  • Between 1 September 1990 and 30 June 2015 the maximum payable is $50,000
  • Since 1 July 2015 the maximum payable is $100,000

The rules about the amount you might be paid as compensation depend on the date of the offence.  For example, for offences committed since 1 September 1990 the amount of compensation for financial loss is calculated as follows:

  • for claims up to $2000 – that amount
  • for claims exceeding $2000 – the sum of $2000 plus a fraction (usually three quarters) of the balance of the claim as assessed.

The amount of compensation for non-financial loss is calculated as follows:

  • For offences committed between 1 September 1990 and 30 June 2015, a claim for pain and suffering is assessed on a 0-50 points scale (with 50 points being the most serious possible injury).
  • For offences committed since 1 July 2015, a claim for pain and suffering is assessed on a 0-60 point scale (with 60 points being the most serious possible injury). 

A claim must be assessed as greater than 2-points on either scale if compensation for such injury is to be paid. 

Should you be eligible for compensation the total payable for financial loss and non-financial loss cannot exceed the prescribed maximum. 

In homicide cases, a spouse of the deceased victim, a parent of a deceased child (who was under 18 years of age when killed), or a child (under 18 years of age) whose parent is killed might also be eligible for a grief payment. The person who pays for the deceased homicide victim's funeral might be eligible for reimbursement of some or all of the funeral expenses. The sum payable depends on the date of the homicide. 

If you believe you might be entitled to compensation, grief and/or funeral expenses, you should consult a lawyer.

The Victim Support Service, the Law Society of South Australia or the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights can refer you to a lawyer practising in this area.  Inquiries may also be directed to the Attorney Generals Department, Victims Compensation Section, phone 8207 1687; or the Court Administration Authority, Victims Compensation Applications, phone 8204 0289.

The Legal Services Commission publishes the Law Handbook On-line, which includes information on victims compensation. 

A victim who does not suffer an injury, or whose injury is of only a minor or temporary nature, may not be entitled to compensation, but may still be able to apply for some assistance. Payments can be made from the Fund in the Attorney-General’s discretion to help victims to recover from the effects of the crime on their daily lives.  For example, a victim who is traumatised by a death threat could ask to be assisted with home or personal security measures.  The Commissioner for Victims’ Rights (phone 8204 9635) or the Victim Support Service (phone 1800 842 846) can provide more information and help you to apply.

Household insurance

Contact your insurance company and the police as soon as possible (preferably the same day) in the event of a break in or burglary.  Tell them what happened.  The insurance company may post a claim form out to you, or they may send out an insurance assessor to work out how much you can claim.  They may need details of where and when you reported the crime to the police.  If you took too long to report the crime to the police, the insurance company may refuse to pay you.

Workers rehabilitation and compensation

If you are a victim of crime at work, you should ask about your worker’s compensation entitlements as soon as possible after the incident.  Your employer (or their claims agent), health and safety officer, your elected health and safety representative (if applicable) or a union official, lawyer or even your doctor should be able to help.  If you were injured during the incident, you must report this to your employer.

Return to Work SA also can help.  You can phone Return to Work SA on 13 18 55 during office hours.

Motor vehicle accident compensation

Whenever an injury or death results from a motor vehicle accident, the third party and comprehensive insurers must be notified as soon as possible.  Both the owner and the driver are guilty of an offence if this does not happen.

If your injury or loss involved the use of a motor vehicle you should seek further advice from a lawyer, your insurance company, or the CTP Insturance Regulator (phone 1300 303 558) in relation to compulsory third party insurance.