Legal options for survivors of sexual assault

Monday 15 October 2018
Kirsty Osborne

Survivors of sexual assault experience significant physical and psychological harm and suffering.  We encourage that if you or someone you know has survived a sexual assault, they consider:

  1. reporting the incident to the police; and
  2. contacting a lawyer.

Reporting to the police

There are specialised units of Victoria Police that assist survivors of sexual assault.  These units are called Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCITs).  SOCIT locations can be found on the Victoria Police website.

Reporting a sexual assault to the police will usually involve making a written statement.  The SOCIT can then investigate the incident and determine whether they will lay charges.

There may be some circumstances where a survivor is reluctant to make a police report.  In these circumstances, the survivor should speak with a lawyer.  A lawyer can provide advice about the compensation options below and explain how making a police report can assist in bringing a claim.

How can a lawyer help?

Although financial compensation will not change what happened, it can represent some acknowledgement of the wrong that has occurred.

A lawyer can assist survivors to receive compensation for the physical, psychological and financial harm caused by the sexual assault by making one or more of the following claims.

Type of claim

What is it?

Police report required?

Time limits *

Who pays?

  VOCAT claim

VOCAT stands for the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.  A survivor can make an application to VOCAT to pay compensation for particular categories of loss.  The Tribunal then has the discretion to make payments in response to the application.

No, but making a police report can sometimes streamline the process

2 years from the date of the crime

Government fund

 Sentencing Act Application

This type of claim is made under the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). This claim can only be made if the offender has been charged and convicted of the crime.


1 year from the date the offender is found guilty

The offender

 Civil claim

This type of claim is where the survivor sues the offender personally.

In some circumstances an institution, like a school or church, should have taken reasonable steps to prevent a sexual assault from occurring.  In these circumstances, it is possible to sue the institution for negligence. **

No, but a police report may assist with the claim


If the person was assaulted as a child, there is no time limit

If the person was assaulted as an adult, 3 years from the date of the crime

The offender or responsible institution



* Extensions of time can be obtained in certain circumstances for all types of claims.

** If the survivor was sexually assaulted in an institutional context, they may also be able to bring a claim for a reparation payment under a redress scheme.


Our dedicated team of lawyers guide survivors through the legal process with compassion and care, providing consistent and carefully considered advice.

If you would like further information about sexual assault compensation, please contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.

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