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Linking victims of violence to health services

Marina Williams
7 November 2016  

Physiotherapists are one of many health professions aiding victims and witnesses of violence in their recovery by providing health services in partnership with Victim Assist Queensland. Victim Assist helps people who have been hurt by an act of violence and may need financial assistance in paying medical costs while recovering from their physical or psychological injuries. Help with an injury can apply to either the victim of a violent crime or their family.

Victim Assist is a unit of the Department of Justice and Attorney General and administers the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009. In linking victims to a support service, Victim Assist may be able to refund money spent or incurred for health services, such as counselling, travel for medical appointment, loss of earnings, medicine and treatment of injuries.

‘We generally find victims experience less re-traumatisation if the services they access are well coordinated,’ Nicola Doumany, Director of Victim Assist, says. ‘A victim’s recovery journey can be long and complex, but we find victims manage the journey better when well supported by their family and friends, support workers and treatment providers.’

Since 2009, Victim Assist has assessed more than 12 000 applications for financial assistance, many for physiotherapy.

People who can apply for financial assistance include:
  • primary victims (people who are injured as a direct result of an act of violence committed against them)
  • related victims (people who, at the time of the act of violence were close family members of, or dependants of, a primary victim who died as a result of an act of violence).
People who seek assistance may suffer long-term or permanent injuries, while others may recover fully with only a short course of treatment. Therefore, according to Nicola, the scheme has been designed to be as flexible as possible and enable the person to work with their chosen health practitioner(s).



In establishing the optimal recovery or injury management plan and grant of financial assistance, Victim Assist assessors work with the health practitioner and the person seeking treatment.

To access financial assistance, the person applies directly to Victims Assist Queensland and, in most cases, the act of violence must be reported to police. Given the complexity and volume of applications received, and the requirement to liaise with police and a variety of health practitioners, assessments can take months. However, physiotherapists can minimise assessment time by giving the person seeking treatment the documents they need to support their application as soon as possible after the first visit. They and other registered health practitioners can also complete medical certificates.

To apply, the patient will need:
  • a completed Victim Assist Medical Certificate
  • a treatment plan detailing the person being treated for injuries related to a violent act, the number of sessions estimated to achieve optimal recovery, the cost per session, and any Medicare contribution
  • if treatment is urgently required, a cover letter specifying the need for urgency.
When approved, the applicant receives a written Notice of Decision and Statement of Reasons. For efficiency of services, the health provider liaises directly with Victim Assist’s payments team; however, payment for services cannot be guaranteed until assessment of the application is completed. Victim Assist can make interim grants to cover urgently required treatment; however, as assessment of claims can take weeks, practitioners can access Medicare’s Enhanced Primary Care Plan, in the first instance. Physiotherapists can treat the patient as often as necessary, for up to six years.

For more information, application and medical certificate forms contact Victims LinkUp on 1300 546 587 or victimslinkup@justice.qld.gov.au; or visit qld.gov.au/victims. 

 

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