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A report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (2003) found that the cost of the crime (including medical costs, property loss, and lost output amongst others) amounted to $19 billion per annum. Other costs (such as policing, prisons and the security industry) add nearly another $13 billion. The total estimated bill is nearly $32 billion per year. See http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi247t.html. The cost of providing victim assistance through support and counselling servies, supported accommodation and the like amounted to $880 million per annum.
The direct financial and material consequences to victims and their families as a result of their victimisation varies. The medical cost of an average assault with injury is $1,000 and the average medical costs for a homicide amounting to $7,600. Lost output costs (being the paid or unpaid work that a victim would have done) are at about $3,400 for an injury assault, and about $4,500 for an injury sexual assault.
The best estimate of the theft element of robbery is about $800 per incident and about $2,000 per incident for residential burglary.
FINANCIAL & MATERIAL ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS
If you have suffered injury, loss or damage as a result of being a victim of crime, you may be entitled to financial assistance or compensation. To assist in any such claim you should keep medical records and other records as well as receipts for any money you have spent as a result of your injury, loss or damage.
Victims may also be eligible for social security benefits of some kind. This could be sickness or disability benefit or some other temporary financial support. Contact www.centrelink.gov.au
The law on compensation or financial assistance is different in each State or Territory. The information provided here is only a general guide. For further information contact a victim support agency or Legal Aid Office.
Reparation or Compensation from the Offender
If a person has been convicted of an offence, it may be possible for the magistrate or judge to consider imposing a reparation or compensation order on the offender as part of the sentence. Discuss this possibility with the police investigator or prosecutor. The request may be put to the magistrate or judge but it is usually their discretion whether to award it. If it is ordered, then payment will be made to and enforced by the court.
Government Compensation or Financial Assistance
A victim of crime (usually only where it is a violent crime) may be eligible to apply to the Government compensation or financial assistance scheme that is a fund of public monies. Each State and Territory has different laws that describe if you are eligible to apply, what you can apply for and how to apply.
Some people will have private insurance that may cover some of the costs and losses incurred as a consequence of the crime. This could be household insurance, personal or employment insurance and car insurance. Notify your insurer as soon as possible after the incident.
Many crimes occur when a person is at their place of work. Many employers large and small have employee assistance services to assist workers who have been harmed as a result of crime that has occurred at work. Sometimes this may also include accessing the industry workers compensation scheme. You may get information from your manager or trade union representative.
Private Legal Action
Suing the offender in civil proceedings may be a way of recovering some losses. However, this is usually only worthwhile if that person has some assets. Speak with a solicitor about the possibility of taking action.
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