Victims Assistance & Counselling Program
In a region with one of the highest incidences of family violence and violent crimes, sadly there are too often innocent victims. Many of these crimes such as sexual assault are unreported. Victims of crime deserve all the support they can get to help restore some sense of normality in their life.
Windermere’s Victims Assistance and Counselling Program (VACP) provides high-quality service responses including information, advocacy, case management, practical assistance and counselling to victims of violent crime to assist their recovery from the affects of the crime and reduce the risk of revictimisation.
VACP receives many calls every day – and each one is different. Calls come from people young and old, those from different cultures, varied backgrounds, men and women; yet there is always one common thread… all have been touched by violent crime – as a victim, friend or family member, or as an onlooker. Referrals come from many sources – police, schools, hospitals, community agencies, family and friends, from victims, themselves.
Victims Assistance and Counselling Program offers:
- Emotional and physical support – practical assistance and counselling to victims of violent crime to assist their recovery and reduce the risk of revictimisation
- Advocacy – a voice for victims
- Enhancement and implementation of the Victims Charter
- Pathways to other services
- Information, and
- Case management.
Recently a key focus for the Victims Assistance and Counselling Program has been on increasing an awareness of the counselling aspect of the program within the CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community.
As a result of a number of forums, clients from the CALD community have started to access the service with great outcomes.
Word of mouth is growing about the service within the CALD community, with counsellors undertaking specialist CALD training to offer a service that is respectful and easily accessed by all.
This service is available to victims of reported and unreported violent crime; victims of sexual assault and family violence; and individuals requiring a single service response.
The role of our VACP Case Managers is to:
- Link victims of crime to appropriate support services
- Provide direct support to victims with multiple and complex needs and coordinate a range of specialist services (eg. mental health, disability services, drug and alcohol etc.)
- Facilitate victims’ understanding of, and confidence in, the justice system
- Refer eligible victims of crime for counselling. Assist eligible victims of crime to apply to the Victims Of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) for financial assistance and longer term counselling where required.
The VACP program has established strong links with government departments, police, specialist agencies (family violence, sexual assault, mental health, disability, housing, CALD, indigenous, drug and alcohol) and other community services, as part of a coordinated approach to improving outcomes for victims of crime.
The VACP program is provided free of charge.
Our VACP program is available across the ten local government regions, which comprise the southern metropolitan. Outreach workers are available across multiple sites throughout these local government areas. Although VACP Case Managers are based at Windermere's new site, they have the capacity to provide outreach support across multiple sites throughout these local government areas.
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Michael’s Story: a tragic waste of life
Michael* is 18. Like most young men, he loves to go clubbing.
On this night he is standing with some friends, when another group approaches, words are exchanged and Michael is assaulted and pushed to the ground. His head hits the gutter, and he is kicked.
His attackers run off into the night and Michael lays motionless on the road. He is taken to hospital and placed on life-support. His family comes. Sadly, he passes away. His parents are referred to the Windermere Victims Assistance and Counselling Program (VCAP) by the police.
When the time is right, a VACP case manager makes a visit to the family home. The case manager is shown pictures of a laughing young man, his trophies, and his typically teenage room. The case manager enters a little into the family’s pain and anguish, sharing for a few moments the enormity of their loss – while also offering much needed emotional and practical support for as long as it is required.
* Not his real name