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Practice notes

Every Issue

Cite as: (2003) 77(7) LIJ, p.70

Supreme Court

Cite as: (2003) 77(7) LIJ, p.70

Trolley access to court

Notice to Practitioners

  1. Trolley access (trolleys of documents) to the Supreme Court is by “disabled access” points of entry. These points are the north (Lonsdale Street) and south (Little Bourke Street) gates to the laneway which runs north/south between the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal (north end)/Old High Court (south end).
  2. Entry to laneway

    (a) North end laneway
    A security officer is present who will permit entry with document trolleys and who will physically scan the person and contents entering. If no officer is at the gateway, press the “disabled access” intercom button and request entry and an officer will attend.

    (b) South end laneway
    Press the “disabled access” intercom button and an officer will attend, scan the person and contents, and permit entry.

    (c) In each instance inform the security officer that you are a legal practitioner (or employee thereof) attending for court purposes, to gain entry.
  3. Once within the secure court precinct (which includes the Trial Division, Court of Appeal and Old High Court), follow the “disabled access” signs to your destination. All courtrooms are accessible by following the signs (there are lifts to the courts above ground floor level). Entry to the Trial Division building is at the south-east corner of the judges’ internal car park, to the Court of Appeal via the lift on the south side of the Court of Appeal building, and to the Old High Court via the ramp at the southern end of the laneway.
  4. New and improved signage, including “disabled access” signs, will be installed within the next four weeks.

Persons not in control of document trolleys must use the normal secure entry points to the court precinct.

Justice Philip Cummins
5 May 2003

Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal


Cite as: (2003) 77(7) LIJ, p.70

Repealing of obsolete practice and procedural directions

Practice Direction No 1/2003

The following practice and procedural directions are hereby repealed. Where applicable, the relevant current practice direction or regulation is identified.

Practice directions issued by the Chief Magistrate pursuant to s58 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996
2/97   Time for making an application pursuant to s29 (replaced by Practice Direction No 3/2003)
3/97   Determination pursuant to s33 (not replaced)
4/97   Notification of alleged offender(s) pursuant to s34(2) and (3) (replaced by Practice Direction No 5/2003)
6/97   Guidelines for perusal of police material (replaced by Practice Direction No 2/2003 “Access to VOCAT files”)
7/97   Loss of earnings/dependency claims (replaced by Practice Directions Nos 6 and 7/2003)
8/97   Venue for multiple applications (see now Victims of Crime Assistance (Procedure) Amendment Rules 2002)

Procedural directions issued pursuant to s44 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996
1/97 Directions hearings (replaced by Practice Direction No 4/2003)
2/97 Persons with a substantial interest pursuant to s35 (replaced by Practice Direction No 8/2003)

Practice directions issued by the principal registrar
24 & 29/93   Perusal of police material (replaced by Practice Direction No 2/2003 “Access to VOCAT files”)
9/94   Administrative Appeals Tribunal costs – taxing (not replaced)
17/95   Subpoenaing of Tribunal files (replaced by Practice Direction No 2/2003 “Access to VOCAT files”)
15/96   Notification of alleged offender(s) (replaced by Practice Direction No 5/2003)

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Access to VOCAT files

Practice Direction No 2/2003

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) is a tribunal of public record.

Access may be restricted in certain circumstances having regard to a number of legal considerations including statutory protection, immunity from production, privilege and the following specific legislation:

  • Victims of Crimes Assistance Act 1996 (VOCA Act), particularly ss42, 42A and 43;
  • Information Privacy Act 2000; and
  • Freedom of Information Act 1982.

This practice direction sets out the procedure to be followed when access is sought to the content of all or part of a VOCAT file for the purpose of:

  • inspection; and/or
  • the obtaining of information; and/or
  • the taking of copies of documents; and/or
  • the production of all or part of the file.

A. Procedure for dealing with requests to access the file

1. Requests by the applicant and/or the applicant’s legal representative
The registrar is permitted to grant the applicant and/or the applicant’s legal representative access to all parts of the VOCAT file except:

(a)   medical and/or psychological reports which have been filed on behalf of the applicant and which have a notation to the effect that the report is to be treated confidentially; and/or

(b)   police briefs and related police documentation;

(c)   hospital records;

(d)   other documents not filed by the applicant.

With respect to documents (a) to (d) inclusive (hereinafter referred to as classified documents):

(i)   the applicant is permitted to access classified documents with the consent of the author or the person who provided the documents to VOCAT as the case may be (hereinafter referred to as the classified document owner);

(ii)   subject to sub-para (iii), if the classified document owner does not consent to the applicant having access to the classified documents, unless VOCAT otherwise orders, the matter shall be listed for a directions hearing, and the classified document owner shall, in addition to the applicant, be notified of the date and place of the directions hearing;

(iii)   where the police do not consent to access being given to the police brief and related police documents because the matter is still under investigation and/or relevant criminal proceedings have not been completed, unless VOCAT otherwise orders, a directions hearing shall not be listed until after the police investigation/ criminal proceedings have been completed;

(iv)   in certain circumstances, VOCAT may require an undertaking as to confidentiality be given by the applicant.

In all other cases or where there is some ambiguity or uncertainty, the file should be referred to a VOCAT member for directions.

2. Requests by a person who has a substantial interest pursuant to s35(1) of the VOCA Act, including requests by the alleged offender
Where a request to access a VOCAT file is made by an alleged offender, or a person who has a substantial interest pursuant to s35(1) of the VOCA Act, or his or her legal representative:

(a)   subject to sub-para (b), access is permitted with the written consent of the applicant;

(b)   if access is requested to a classified document, the procedure outlined in section A1 of this practice direction shall apply subject to:

(i)   such modifications being made as are appropriate; and
(ii)   section A1(a) being read as a reference to all medical and/or psychological reports;

(c)   if the written consent of the applicant has not been obtained, the file shall be referred to a VOCAT member for directions;

(d)   permission to access the file shall not be granted until and unless the applicant has had the opportunity to be heard as to whether or not the application for access should be granted;

(e)   in all cases where there is some ambiguity or uncertainty, the file should be referred to a VOCAT member for directions.

3. Requests by way of subpoena
Where a subpoena is served on VOCAT, the registrar must comply with the following procedure:

(a)  Forward a copy of the subpoena to the principal registrar. The principal registrar shall enter the details into a central register.

(b)   Unless VOCAT otherwise orders, give notice of the receipt of the subpoena to the applicant and the classified document owner of any classified documents which are contained on the VOCAT file.

(c)   Make copies of any orders made pursuant to ss42, 42A and/or 43 of the VOCA Act.

(d)   Place the subpoenaed documents in an envelope and attach a letter addressed to the appropriate court officer in the following terms:

“The attached envelope contains documents which may be subject to statutory protection, immunity from production, privilege or be subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and/or the Information Privacy Act 2000 and/or the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 and/or the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958 and should not be opened except by order of a Judge (or Magistrate or Tribunal member, as appropriate).
“It is requested that if the Court (or Tribunal, as the case may be) is considering allowing access to the documents in the envelope, the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal and other interested persons be afforded the opportunity to be heard.”

(e)   Refer the file to a VOCAT member.

(f)   On the VOCAT member returning the file to the registrar, act on the instructions of the VOCAT member.

4. Requests pursuant to purported statutory, common law or other authority, e.g. TAC, Victorian WorkCover Authority, Social Security
The registrar must comply with the following procedure:

(a)   Forward a copy of the request to the principal registrar. The principal registrar shall enter the details into a central register.

(b)   Unless VOCAT otherwise orders, give notice of the receipt of the request to the applicant and the authors of other classified documents which are on the VOCAT file.

(c)   Refer the file to a VOCAT member.

(d)   On the VOCAT member returning the file to the registrar, act on the instructions of the VOCAT member.

5. All other requests
(a)   Refer the file to a VOCAT member.

(b)   On the VOCAT member returning the file to the registrar, act on the instructions of the VOCAT member.

B. Procedure for authorisation

  1. The following particulars of authorisation to access the file must be recorded on the file:

    (a) the name of the VOCAT member or registrar authorising access;

    (b) the date of authorisation;

    (c) the name of the person who is authorised to access the file; and

    (d) the terms and conditions of the authorisation, e.g. access to all or part of the file, whether copies are permitted to be taken, if so how many, and whether copies must be returned.
  2. If an undertaking is signed by the person accessing the file, this undertaking must be placed on the file.
  • C. Procedure for access
  1. Access to the file is permitted at a time appointed by the registrar of VOCAT.
  2. Where the terms of the authorisation permit copies of documents to be taken, copies will be made available on the payment of the applicable fee and subject to such conditions as directed by VOCAT.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

[Editor’s note: Due to space considerations, the following appendices to this practice direction have not been reproduced here:

  • Form of undertaking
  • Children and Young Persons Act 1989, s26: Restriction on publication of proceedings
  • Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958, s4: Prohibition of reporting of names.]

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Extension of time – s29

Practice Direction No 3/2003

Section 29 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 allows an applicant to make an application for assistance within two years after the occurrence of the act of violence or within two years of the date of death of the primary victim where the applicant is a related victim or applying for funeral expenses to be met by VOCAT.

Applications for extension of this two year limit may be made under s29 by filing a written application for extension of time.

Such applications will generally be determined when the applicant has notified VOCAT that all material in support of the application for extension of time has been filed.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Directions hearings

Practice Direction No 4/2003

Directions hearings are held for the purpose of making interlocutory and interim orders with respect to the preparation of a pending claim. The aim of the directions hearing is to ensure that the final hearing is heard expeditiously. Directions hearings are not held in all cases.

Directions hearings are commonly held when the following issues arise:

  1. cases are to proceed to a final hearing involving a person with a legitimate and/ or substantial interest (including an alleged offender) as a party to the proceedings and/ or where counsel to assist VOCAT has been appointed;
  2. access is sought to classified documents contained on the VOCAT file or access to the VOCAT file is sought by a third party (see Practice Direction No 2/2003);
  3. complex applications including:
    (a) applications for extension of time;
    (b) delay in or non-reporting of the act of violence to the police;
    (c) pecuniary loss;
  4. adverse police material;
  5. claims which do not appear to disclose a relevant offence within the meaning of s3(1) of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996;
  6. cases which are poorly prepared, including the failure to properly prepare and particularise the statement of claim.

VOCAT will usually require that some or all (depending on the circumstances of the case) of the following final hearing listing information be provided at the directions hearing:

(a)   the number of witnesses to be called;
(b)   the estimated length of the hearing;
(c)   the need, if any, for the remote witness facility;
(d)   access to and exchange of documents;
(e)   identifying the facts in dispute between the parties;
(f)   identifying any other issues which may affect the conduct of the final hearing; and
(g)   the need, if any, for an interpreter.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Notification of alleged offender(s) pursuant to ss34(2) and (3) of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996

Practice Direction No 5/2003

When a VOCAT member indicates that consideration is being given to notification of the alleged offender, the following procedure will be followed:

  1. VOCAT will advise the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner in writing that notification is being considered. 21 days should be allowed for a response. If there is no response, the matter will be referred back to the VOCAT member.
  2. If an objection to notification is lodged, the VOCAT member will consider all relevant matters and make a decision as to whether the alleged offender will be notified.
  3. If notification is still to take place, the applicant or applicant’s legal practitioner will first be advised of this in writing. Twenty-one days will be allowed for the applicant or applicant’s legal practitioner to advise whether the claim is still to be pursued.
  4. If the applicant or applicant’s legal practitioner advises that the applicant seeks to proceed with the claim, or no response is received, notification will be sent to the alleged offender by registered mail. Fourteen days will be allowed for a response.
  5. If no response is received from the alleged offender, the application will be listed and the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner will be advised that the alleged offender will not be attending.
  6. If the alleged offender elects to be notified of the hearing, the matter will be listed for a directions hearing.
  7. Pursuant to any directions given at the directions hearing, the application will be listed for hearing and both parties notified of the time, date and place of the hearing.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Loss of earnings

Practice Direction No 6/2003

Pursuant to s17 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, VOCAT has jurisdiction to award loss of earnings entitlements to primary and secondary victims as a direct result of total or partial incapacity for work during a period of up to two years after the occurrence of the act of violence.

Loss of earnings calculations are made by reference to gross income figures.

Primary victim: VOCAT may pay up to $20,000 for loss of earnings suffered, or likely to be suffered, during a period of up to two years after, and as a direct result of, the act of violence.

Secondary victim: In exceptional circumstances, VOCAT may pay up to $20,000 for loss of earnings suffered, or reasonably likely to be suffered, as a direct result of witnessing, or becoming aware of, the act of violence and which loss occurred during a period of up to two years after the occurrence of the act of violence.

Notes:

  1. A secondary victim is only entitled to loss of earnings in “exceptional circumstances”.
  2. A primary or secondary victim is only entitled to a loss of earnings after exhausting all other entitlements available including those available pursuant to Social Security, WorkCover and Transport Accident Commission legislation.

Documents required to be produced by those applying as primary or secondary victims
Note: The following list is a guide only. All claims should be supported by documentation which verifies the figures used to calculate the amount claimed.

(a)  advice in writing from the victim’s employer or, if self-employed, a statement detailing:

(i)  number of days/weeks absent from work;
(ii)  reason for period of absence;
(iii)  gross loss and how amount is calculated including particulars of the basis on which notional pre-injury earnings have been determined;

(b)   medical report/certificate specifying the nature of illness or injury causing partial or total work incapacity and the duration of such incapacity;

(c)  documentation verifying:

(i)  WorkCover payments;
(ii)  Transport Accident Commission payments;
(iii)  Social Security payments; and
(iv)  all other payments received by the victim or to which the victim is or may be entitled during the period for which the loss of earnings claim is made;

(d)  if self-employed, tax returns for:

(i)  the three financial years before the act of violence; and
(ii)  the financial years between the date of the act of violence and the end date of the period for which the loss of earnings claim is made; and

(e)  any other documentation relevant to the loss of earnings claim.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Dependency claim

Practice Direction No 7/2003

Pursuant to the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996, VOCAT has jurisdiction to make an award for an amount that, but for the death of the primary victim, the related victim would have been likely to receive from the primary victim during a period of up to two years after that death (dependency claim).

A related victim is eligible to claim up to a maximum of $50,000. A dependency claim is one of a number of categories of assistance for which VOCAT has jurisdiction to make an award.

Note: A related victim is only entitled to a dependency claim award after the victim has exhausted all other entitlements available including those available pursuant to Social Security, WorkCover and Transport Accident Commission legislation.

Documents required to be produced by those applying as related victims
Note: The following list is a guide only. All claims should be supported by documentation which verifies the figures used to calculate the amount claimed.

(a)  advice in writing from the deceased primary victim’s employer or, if the deceased was self-employed, a statement detailing gross pre-death earnings including particulars as to the basis on which the pre-death earnings have been determined;

(b)  tax returns of the applicant related victim and the deceased primary victim for:

(i)  the three financial years before the death of the primary victim; and
(ii)  the financial years between the date of death and the end date of the period for which the dependency claim is made;

(c)  documentation verifying:

(i)  WorkCover payments;
(ii)  Transport Accident Commission payments;
(iii)  Social Security payments; and
(iv)  all other payments received by the related victim or the deceased primary victim or to which the related or primary victim’s estate is or may be entitled during the period for which the dependency claim is made;

(d)  documentation verifying the assets and liabilities of the applicant related victim, the estate of the deceased primary victim and the distribution of the estate assets;

(e)  documentation establishing the financial contributions made by the deceased primary victim to the applicant related victim for the three financial years before the death of the primary victim;

(f)  documentation verifying the relationship between the applicant related victim and the primary deceased victim, i.e. spouse, child, de facto relationship etc. Where appropriate, documentation verifying the nature of the relationship; for instance, length of relationship, financial arrangements etc.; and

(g)  any other documentation relevant to the dependency claim.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Persons with a legitimate and/or substantial interest pursuant to ss34 and 35 of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996

Practice Direction No 8/2003

A person, including the alleged offender, may have:

  1. a legitimate interest in the proceedings pursuant to s34(2) of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (VOCA); and/or
  2. a substantial interest in the proceedings pursuant to s35(1) of the VOCA.

This situation usually arises in either of the following ways:

  1. a VOCAT member may consider that a third party might have a legitimate and/or substantial interest in the proceedings (Tribunal initiative); and/or
  2. a third party may notify VOCAT that they believe they have a legitimate and/or a substantial interest in the proceedings (third party application).

This practice direction sets out the procedure to be followed in these circumstances.

Tribunal initiative

When a VOCAT member indicates that consideration is being given as to:

  1. whether a person, including the alleged offender, has (a) a legitimate interest pursuant to s34(2) of the VOCA and/or (b) a substantial interest pursuant to s35(1) of the VOCA;
  2. notification of a person who may have a legitimate interest, including the alleged offender, pursuant to ss34(2) and (3) of the VOCA

the following procedure will be followed:

  1. VOCAT will advise the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner in writing.
  2. 21 days will, unless otherwise ordered by VOCAT, be allowed for a response.
  3. After the expiration of the time limit for the response referred to in para 2, the matter will be referred back to the VOCAT member together with the response, if any, received from the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner.
  4. The VOCAT member will consider all relevant matters including the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner’s response and will thereafter make a decision regarding the potential third party interest.
  5. If VOCAT decides that the third party has a legitimate or substantial interest or decides to notify the alleged offender as the case may be, the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner will first be advised of this in writing.
  6. Twenty-one days will, unless otherwise ordered by VOCAT, be allowed for the applicant or applicant’s legal practitioner to advise VOCAT whether the applicant still wishes to pursue the claim.
  7. If the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner advises that the applicant seeks to proceed with the claim, or no response is received, notification will be sent to the third party/alleged offender, as the case may be, by registered mail.
  8. Fourteen days, unless otherwise ordered by VOCAT, will be allowed for a response.
  9. If no response is received from the third party/alleged offender, the application will be listed and the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner will be advised that the third party/alleged offender will not be attending.
  10. If the third party/alleged offender indicates that they wish to be involved in the proceedings or wish to be notified of the hearing, the matter will be listed for a directions hearing. The applicant and the third party/alleged offender will be notified of the time, date and place of the directions hearing.
  11. Procedural directions for the further conduct of the proceedings will, unless otherwise ordered, be determined at the directions hearing (see Practice Direction No 6/2003).

Third party application

When a person, including the alleged offender, considers they:

  1. have (a) a legitimate interest pursuant to s34(2) of the VOCA and/or (b) a substantial interest pursuant to s35(1) of the VOCA; and
  2. should be notified of the hearing of the proceedings pursuant to ss34(2) and (3) of the VOCA

the following procedure will be followed:

  1. The third party/alleged offender must make application in writing, setting out the reasons why they consider that they have a legitimate interest, substantial interest or should be notified of the proceedings. The application need not be in any prescribed form and can be made by letter.
  2. Applications are to be put before a VOCAT member in chambers.
  3. Unless otherwise ordered by VOCAT, VOCAT will forward to the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner a copy of the third party/ alleged offender application and seek a response.
  4. Unless otherwise ordered by VOCAT, 21 days will be allowed for the applicant or the applicant’s legal practitioner to provide a response.
  5. If no response is received from the applicant or the applicant indicates that he or she does not oppose the application, the application will be put before a VOCAT member in chambers for determination of the application.
  6. If the applicant opposes the third party application, the matter will be listed for a directions hearing.
  7. The applicant and the third party/alleged offender will be notified of the time, date and place of the directions hearing.
  8. Procedural directions for the further conduct of the proceedings will, unless otherwise ordered, be determined at the directions hearing (see Practice Direction No 6/2003).

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Counselling and assessment

Practice Direction No 9/2003

From 1 July 2003 VOCAT will implement new procedures in relation to awards for counselling and in relation to psychological and psychiatric assessment.

The new procedures are set out below.

This practice direction has effect from 1 July 2003.

Chief Magistrate Ian L Gray
16 May 2003

Counselling

The following information is designed to assist counsellors in providing the most relevant information to VOCAT with respect to a claim for assistance by a victim of crime.

A. Reports

Counsellors who write reports in support of an application for assistance to VOCAT with respect to a person to whom they are or are proposing to provide counselling services should prepare their reports in accordance with the Guidelines – Preparation of Counselling Reports below.

The guidelines provide for a number of different report styles as follows:

  • First report – up to five hours
    Where the counsellor recommends that the applicant should have five or less counselling hours.
  • First report – more than five hours
    Where the counsellor recommends that the applicant should have more than five counselling hours.
  • Further counselling report
    Where the applicant requests further counselling; that is, after an initial application for counselling has already been approved.

All reports must be accompanied by:

  • the applicant’s signed request for counselling and information acknowledgment form*;
  • particulars of the academic qualifications and experience of the counsellor including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation*; and
  • if a charge is made for the report, a completed counselling and report fee invoice form*.

These guidelines are not to be used for assessment reports and are only designed to be used by treating practitioners.

Guidelines for assessment reports can be found under the heading ASSESSMENT below.

Guidelines – Preparation of Counselling Reports
Treating counsellor – first report – up to five hours
If the counsellor recommends that the applicant should have five or less counselling hours, these guidelines provide the suggested format for a counselling report to be filed with VOCAT in support of the applicant’s initial request for counselling.

The report must be accompanied by:

  1. the applicant’s signed request for counselling and information acknowledgment form*;
  2. particulars of the academic qualifications and experience of the counsellor including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation*; and
  3. if a charge is made for the report, a completed counselling and report fee invoice form*.

The report should generally be one or two pages and no longer than three pages unless exceptional circumstances exist. It should include the following:

  1. a brief outline of the alleged act of violence;
  2. a brief outline of the presenting psychological/psychiatric problems;
  3. an opinion as to the link, if any, between the applicant’s psychological/psychiatric problems and the alleged act of violence;
  4. the applicant’s diagnosis, if a diagnosis can be made;
  5. a brief description of the proposed counselling plan describing:
    (a) approaches to be used;
    (b) goals of the counselling plan; and
    (c) the desired outcomes;
  6. a recommendation for a specific number of counselling hours, the period of time over which it is proposed that the counselling take place, and the estimated cost of the counselling proposed; and
  7. any other relevant information.

Note: Retrospective payment for counselling after the first five hours will not usually be made by VOCAT. Prior approval must be obtained from VOCAT for payment for further/ additional counselling.

Treating counsellor – first report – more than five hours
If the counsellor recommends that the applicant should have more than five counselling hours, these guidelines provide the suggested format for a counselling report to be filed with VOCAT in support of the applicant’s request.

The report must be accompanied by:

  1. the applicant’s signed request for counselling and information acknowledgment form*; and
  2. particulars of the academic qualifications and experience of the counsellor including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation; and
  3. if a charge is made for the report, a completed counselling and report fee invoice form*.

The report should include the following:

  1. particulars of all material considered including police statements and other reports;
  2. the length of time spent in consultation with the applicant and details of tests, if any, undertaken;
  3. an outline of the alleged act of violence;
  4. an outline of the presenting psychological/ psychiatric problems;
  5. an outline of any relevant psychological/ psychiatric history including details of any previous counselling;
  6. an opinion as to the link, if any, between the applicant’s psychological/psychiatric problems and the alleged act of violence;
  7. the applicant’s diagnosis, if a diagnosis can be made;
  8. the applicant’s prognosis;
  9. if the applicant has a relevant prior psychological/psychiatric history, an opinion as to how that affects the applicant’s prognosis;
  10. the proposed counselling plan including:
    (a) approaches to be used;
    (b) goals of the counselling plan; and
    (c) the desired outcomes;
  11. a recommendation for a specific number of counselling hours, the period of time over which it is proposed that the counselling take place, and the estimated cost of the counselling proposed; and
  12. any other relevant information.

Note: Retrospective payment for counselling after the first five sessions will not usually be made by VOCAT unless special circumstances exist. Prior approval must be obtained from VOCAT for payment for further/additional counselling.

Treating counsellor – further counselling report
These guidelines provide the suggested format for a counselling report to be filed with VOCAT in support of the applicant’s request for further counselling, that is, after an initial application for counselling has already been approved.

The report must be accompanied by:

  1. the applicant’s signed request for counselling and information acknowledgment form*; and
  2. particulars of the academic qualifications and experience of the counsellor including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation*; and
  3. if a charge is made for the report, a completed counselling and report fee invoice form.

The report should include the following:

  1. an outline of current progress;
  2. an outline of the outstanding psychological/psychiatric issues;
  3. an outline of any relevant psychological/ psychiatric history;
  4. the applicant’s diagnosis, if a diagnosis can be made;
  5. the applicant’s prognosis;
  6. if the applicant has a relevant prior psychological/psychiatric history, an opinion as to how that affects the applicant’s prognosis;
  7. an opinion as to the link, if any, between the applicant’s continuing psychological/ psychiatric problems and the alleged act of violence;
  8. the proposed counselling plan including:
    (a) the approaches to be used;
    (b) goals of the counselling plan; and
    (c) the desired outcomes;
  9. a recommendation for a specific number of counselling hours, the period of time over which it is proposed that the counselling take place, and the estimated cost of the counselling proposed; and
  10. any other relevant information.

Note: Retrospective payment for counselling after the first five sessions will not usually be made by VOCAT unless special circumstances exist. Prior approval must be obtained from VOCAT for payment for further/ additional counselling.

B. Fees
Claims for payment by VOCAT of fees for counselling reports and for counselling sessions must be made by filing with VOCAT a completed counselling and report fee invoice form*.

ASSESSMENT

Psychologists and/or psychiatrists who assess and report to VOCAT as to the psychological/ psychiatric condition of and treatment/counselling needs of the applicant in accordance with the provisions of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 should prepare their reports in accordance with the Guidelines – Preparation of Assessment Report below.

These guidelines should be used when the request for assessment and report is made by:

  • the applicant or the applicant’s solicitors; or
  • VOCAT pursuant to s39(1)(b) of the VOCA.

The procedure for referral of the applicant pursuant to s39(1)(b) of the VOCA is set out below.

Guidelines – Preparation of Assessment Report
Psychologist/psychiatrist – assessment report

These guidelines provide the suggested format for an assessment report prepared by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The report must be accompanied by:

  1. particulars of the academic qualifications and experience of the psychologist/psychiatrist including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation*; and
  2. a completed counselling and report fee invoice form*.

The report must be accompanied by a statement particularising the academic qualifications and experience of the psychologist/ psychiatrist including particulars, if any, of VRAS accreditation*.

The report to VOCAT should include the following:

  1. particulars of all material considered including police statements and other reports;
  2. the length of time spent in consultation with the applicant and details of tests, if any, undertaken;
  3. an outline of the alleged act of violence;
  4. an outline of the presenting psychological/ psychiatric problems;
  5. an outline of any relevant psychological/ psychiatric history including details of any previous counselling;
  6. an opinion as to the link, if any, between the applicant’s psychological/psychiatric problems and the alleged act of violence;
  7. the applicant’s diagnosis, if a diagnosis can be made;
  8. the applicant’s prognosis;
  9. if the applicant has a relevant prior psychological/psychiatric history, an opinion as to how that affects the applicant’s prognosis;
  10. if the applicant has already received psychological/psychiatric treatment or counselling, an opinion as to what if any benefit and/or detriment has been achieved by the treatment;
  11. the proposed counselling plan including:
    (a) approaches to be used;
    (b) goals of the counselling plan; and
    (c) the desired outcomes;
  12. if counselling is necessary; a recommendation for a specific number of counselling hours, the period of time over which it is proposed that the counselling take place, and the estimated cost of the counselling proposed; and
  13. any other relevant information.

REFERRAL PROCEDURES

Procedure when a referral is made to the panel of psychologists or psychiatrists pursuant to s39(1)(b) of the VOCA

  1. A VOCAT member may select the panel member to whom the applicant is to be referred. If no selection is made by the VOCAT member, the registrar should select a member from the appropriate panel of psychologists or psychiatrists.
  2. An appointment for examination should be made by telephone and confirmed in writing.
  3. The following should be forwarded with the letter of confirmation:
(a)  a copy of the Guidelines – Preparation of Reports – Psychological/psychiatric assessment report; and
(b)  copies of any of the following documents:
  (i)  application;
  (ii)  applicant’s police statement;
  (iii)  any statutory declaration made by the applicant;
  (iv)  any relevant reports;
  (v)  such other material as is directed by the VOCAT member; and
  (vi)  a counselling and report fee invoice form*.

The applicant is to be notified by mail*.

[* Editor’s note: Due to space constraints, the following attachments to this practice direction have not been reproduced here:

  • Counselling request and information acknowledgment form
  • Particulars of counsellor’s academic qualifications, experience and VRAS accreditation
  • Counselling and report fee invoice form
  • Draft letter to psychologist/psychiatrist (s39(1)(b) referral)
  • Draft letter to applicant (s39(1)(b) referral)]

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