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Practice Spotlight: VOCAT and Compensation Applications

Practice Spotlight: VOCAT and Compensation Applications

By Jessica Hall

Young Lawyers 

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This month the Young Lawyers’ blog is focusing on the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) and compensation applications under Section 85B of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) (SA).

The VOCAT provides financial assistance to victims of crimes. Victims can also apply for compensation directly from the offender by way of a compensation application pursuant to section 85B of the SA.

Lawyers assist their clients in making these applications. This includes gathering all the required documents, effectively managing the client’s expectations and their emotions, and attending hearings or briefing barristers where there are complex issues with the application.

For VOCAT applications, the client does not pay any legal fees; all legal fees are paid by the Tribunal on a fixed rate according to the complexity of the matter.

Below is a Q&A with Jesse Yip, who practises in this area.

In practice with Jesse Yip, lawyer at YourLawyer.

How did you come into this role?

I wanted to do something related to criminal law and had experience in this area from a previous role. I enjoyed the legal aspects of criminal law, but the opportunity to help victims appealed to me. The role for a graduate VOCAT Lawyer at YourLawyer was advertised online, I applied and was successful after going through the interview process.

What does a standard day in your role look like?

I have around 300 matters at any one time. My day begins with checking my spreadsheet to determine which are the most urgent tasks that need completing. I spend a lot of time drafting letters and emails.

Our receptionist generally triages any calls from clients. For any non-urgent queries, the client is usually advised to send me an email.

I also draft final statements of claim which outline what the client wants from the Tribunal and why, and prepare submissions to the Tribunal where there are complications with the application.

Another part of my role is mentoring and training junior staff.

Do you have any advice for any law students or young lawyers wanting to get into this area?

You need to be very mentally resilient in this type of role. It is very rewarding work, but you need to be aware of the things you will be seeing and reading, as they can be quite traumatising. You will need a strong support system of friends and family, and you need to take care of your mental health and wellbeing. One good resource is the counselling services provided by the Law Institute of Victoria to its members.

Tip of the month: 

Be really organised and know when your deadlines are.

Jessica Hall is a lawyer at Hutchinson Legal in Ringwood and a member of the LIV Young Lawyers Editorial Committee.

 


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