Since 1969, South Australia has provided compensation to injured victims of crime even if the offender cannot be found or cannot pay.
Injuries caused by crimes committed between 1 July 1978 and 31 December 2002, are dealt with under the repealed Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1978 (SA) and the Victims of Crime (Transitional) Regulations 2017 (SA).
Injuries caused by crimes committed on or after 31 December 2002 are dealt with under the Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA).
These Acts are referred to in this section as the scheme.
The scheme compensates people who are injured by a crime, for example, a person who is assaulted, raped or robbed. This can include mental as well as physical injury - for example, a person who suffers an anxiety disorder after a home invasion or an armed robbery can be compensated even if they were not physically harmed. It can also include pregnancy resulting from a sexual offence. Close family members of a homicide victim can also be compensated.
The scheme does not compensate for property loss or damage as a result of a crime. 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. The victim has two possible remedies. If the offender is prosecuted, the sentencing court can order the offender to pay compensation to the victim. This money is collected by the court. It is important for the victim to let the prosecutor know if they want to ask for this compensation, as the request is dealt with when the offender is sentenced.
Alternatively, the victim can sue the offender for damages. However, either procedure may be of little use to the victim if the offender cannot be found or has no money to pay the victim.
Cover for the risk that property will be stolen or damaged can be bought from commercial insurers.
Further information about the Victims of Crime Compensation scheme can be located on the Attorney-General's Department (SA) website.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.