Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

Counselling Applications

The Tribunal may make an award of financial assistance for counselling expenses to primary, secondary, and related victims for expenses actually incurred, or reasonably likely to be incurred for reasonable counselling services. Reasonable counselling expenses include counselling reports, counselling sessions already provided or future counselling sessions.  

An award of financial assistance for a counselling expense is made to the applicant.  The award authorises the applicant to incur counselling expenses with a particular counsellor consistent with the treatment plan proposed by that counsellor.  When an award for counselling expenses is made by the Tribunal, the counsellor’s report is the basis for measuring the effectiveness of the treatment provided, and will be relevant in the assessment of any future application for an award for further counselling expenses.  

Applications for financial assistance for counselling expenses must be made in writing by completing the Application for Counselling form and lodging it with the Tribunal.

The Application for Counselling form can be lodged with the Tribunal at the same time as the applicant’s Application for Assistance form, any time prior to the final determination of the application, or by way of variation application after the application has been determined. 

 

The Application for Counselling form must be accompanied by:

  • a Counsellor’s Report in the form set out in Practice Direction 1 of 2014 Awards for counselling expenses– Forms 1, 2 or 3; and

  • Counselling and Report Fee Invoice (if payment is sought for sessions and/or reports) in the form set out in Practice Direction 1 of 2014 – Form 5.

  • The Application for Counselling form details the applicant’s consent and agreement to the proposed treatment plan set out in the counsellor’s report.  It must be completed, signed and dated by the applicant and the applicant’s counsellor. An applicant must have agreed to the proposed treatment plan before signing the Application for Counselling form. 

 

Applications for payment of first five hours of counselling

For adult applicants, the Tribunal will usually pay for the first five hours of counselling for the provision of ‘information, comfort, emotional and instrumental support (psychological first aid) provided by an appropriately qualified counsellor. 

It is important to note, however, that all expenses awarded for counselling services are at the discretion of the Tribunal.  

Applications for financial assistance for the first five hours of counselling must include:

The Tribunal is unlikely to award financial assistance for counselling expenses incurred without its prior approval, except for the provision of ‘psychological first aid’ (i.e. the first five hours of counselling).   If unauthorised counselling expenses are incurred, the applicant may be responsible for meeting the cost of those services.

The Victims Assistance Program (VAP) assists victims, their families or anyone affected by a violent crime to access information, counselling and practical support. The VAP provides short term counselling (usually the first five hours) to eligible victims of crime.  This service is free, so if applicants have accessed counselling through the VAP they should not make an application to the Tribunal for the payment of those counselling expenses. Please visit the Victims of Crime support services page for more information about services offered. 

There are also other government funded programs/centres, such as Centres Against Sexual Assault, that are funded to provide free short to medium term counselling to victims of crime.  If counselling is accessed through these programs, the applicant should not make an application to the Tribunal for the payment of those counselling expenses.

 

Applications for payment of more than five hours of counselling

Applicants who are seeking financial assistance for more than the first five hours of counselling will be required to make an application for more than five hours of counselling.

This includes applicants who:

  • have accessed their first five hours of counselling through the Victims Assistance Program (or similar government funded service) but who require additional counselling sessions (the counsellor contracted by the VAP will generally write the report to the Tribunal recommending further counselling sessions); and
  • applicants who may have accessed up to five hours of counselling with a non-Government-funded counsellor but who require additional counselling sessions (the counsellor will generally write the report to the Tribunal recommending further counselling sessions and claiming payment for the sessions already provided).

The Tribunal will consider making an award for reasonable counselling services that are additional to the first five hours of counselling accessed by an applicant where:

  • there is proper clinical justification;
  • the counselling is likely to be effective in achieving and maintaining the applicant’s recovery;
  • the proposed treatment method is considered by the professional associations/bodies to which the counsellor belongs to be an appropriate method; and
  • a treatment plan has been considered and approved by the Tribunal.  

 

Applications for assistance for more than five hours of counselling must include:

 

Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The Tribunal may refer to the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to assist in making decisions about the assessment and treatment of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Guidelines acknowledge that Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are only some of the conditions faced by individuals affected by traumatic events. The Guidelines will not be applicable to all applicants.

 

Medicare - Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners Benefits Scheme  

On 1 November 2006, the Australian Government introduced new Medicare items for psychological treatment provided by eligible psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists (allied mental health professionals).  The scheme covers a range of common psychological issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder.  

Under the new Medicare scheme, Medicare rebates are available to allied mental health professionals who provide treatment for mental health problems, and who are experts in the assessment and treatment of mental disorders.  

Patients must be referred by their General Practitioner, psychiatrist or paediatrician in order to access the rebate.  Their GP will need to complete a detailed mental health assessment and prepare a Mental Health Care Plan before the patient can be referred to an allied mental health professional.  

From September 2018, eligible patients can generally receive:

  • up to 10 individual services in a calendar year.  The patient’s referring doctor will assess their progress after the first six sessions; and
  • up to 10 group therapy services in a calendar year where such services are available and seen as appropriate by the patient’s referring doctor and the psychologist.

These sessions may be made up of face-to-face consultations, telehealth consultations, or a combination of both.

If an applicant has received financial assistance from the Tribunal for counselling expenses, and is accessing counselling services through the Medicare scheme, the Tribunal may pay the 'gap' after the applicant has received their rebate from Medicare.


© Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, State Government of Victoria

Source URL: https://www.vocat.vic.gov.au/assistance-available/financial-assistance-available/counselling-expenses/counselling-applications
Last Reviewed 04 Apr 2019