Witness expenses

Victims and witnesses who have been served with a summons or subpoena requiring them to go to court to give evidence can make a claim to help pay for the cost of going to court.

You can make a claim for a range of expenses, including:

  • lost wages (this is a capped amount)
  • travel expenses (generally only public transport costs are covered)
  • meal allowances
  • overnight accommodation (for witnesses who live interstate).

There are different rules depending on which court you have been to.

If you have been to the Magistrates’ Court, the police informant will give you a Witness Expense Form. Complete your form then give it to the police informant who will arrange for the magistrate to sign it. You should then take the form to the cashier’s office at the Magistrates’ Court to receive your payment.

If you have been to the County Court or the Supreme Court, the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) solicitor will give you a Witness Expense Claim Form. Complete the form and then give it to the OPP solicitor or police informant.

If you are claiming lost wages your employer will also need to sign your form or you will need to sign a statutory declaration stating that you have lost wages as a result of having to attend court.

Payment is made by direct credit to a nominated bank account, in most cases.

Completed forms should be taken or posted to:

Witness Payments
Office of Public Prosecutions
Ground floor
565 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne 3000

Financial assistance and compensation

Victims of crime may be entitled to compensation and financial assistance. In cases of violent crime, you can apply to the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT).

Payments of financial assistance or compensation may be made for:

  • pain and suffering including physical injury, psychiatric harm or emotional distress
  • expenses incurred for medical purposes, counselling services or other related losses.

Compensation is not available for property loss or damage.

You must apply to VOCAT within two years of the act of violence occurring but sometimes exceptions are granted.

For more information, please download the financial assistance brochure.

Compensation and civil action

In certain circumstances you may be able to apply for compensation from the offender, through the sentencing court, after they are found guilty.

You have the right to take civil action for compensation against the offender whether or not they are found guilty. This is a separate legal process. The OPP does not act on behalf of victims in these matters.

Both options involve complex legal processes. Important questions to consider are:

  • Will the offender be able to pay the compensation?
  • If the offender refuses to pay compensation, how much will it cost to enforce the order for compensation?
  • What are the costs involved in taking civil action?

Information

The following organisations can provide you with information about your right to financial assistance and compensation.

The Victims of Crime Helpline – is a free service that can help you apply for financial assistance. Call 1800 819 817.

Federation of Community Legal Centres – the Federation can give you details of your local Community Legal Centre which provides free legal advice to the public.

Law Institute Referral Service – the ‘Find a Lawyer and Legal referral service’ gives you access to 30 minutes free legal advice from a local legal firm.