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Information for victims accessing counselling


    Free counselling is available to primary, family and secondary victims of an act of violence. 

    An initial 22 hours is available to primary and secondary victims and 20 hours to family victims and relevant family members. 

    Once the allocation of hours is used, further hours can be approved where the victim and counsellor agree to this course and exceptional reasons are evident.

    Reactions Following a Crime

    Becoming a victim of crime can be a distressing life event. The feelings victims experience may be normal reactions to an abnormal event. Many of these reactions may fade over a period of weeks, although some might last longer. Victims can cope in different ways. 

    For more information on reactions to becoming a victim of crime and ways to cope with the effects it can cause go to the reactions following a crime page.

    The Approved Counselling Service (ACS)

    The Approved Counselling Service (ACS) provides free individual counselling to people who have become victims of violent crime that occurred in NSW and aims to assist victims recover from the psychological and emotional impacts the crime has had on them. The ACS is available to people of all ages and backgrounds.

    Counselling is provided on a short-term basis of up to 22 hours, with a clear focus on rehabilitation. While recovery responses are generally positive for victims who access counselling soon after the incident has occurred, people who have been victims of events many years earlier can find several benefits through counselling. This includes those people who have been too afraid to open up about the incident before, or who feel they were not understood by others when they previously tried to.

    Approved Counsellors under the ACS are social workers, psychologists, clinical psychologists or psychiatrists in private practice who have proven experience in working with victims of crime. They are paid by Victims Services and are available in the metropolitan and most rural and regional areas in NSW. While the service is a state-wide service, Victims Services has approved counsellors in other states and territories and also overseas. 

    Clients may ask counsellors to support them through their justice journey. This support could be in many forms, for example providing counselling in preparation for reporting a crime to police, support to attend court, and assistance with preparing a victims impact statement. A victim does not need to report the violence to another person or agency to access counselling.

    For information on how to choose an Approved Counsellor, and the professional requirements and standards Approved Counsellors must meet, please review the How to find an Approved Counsellor page.

    Who can apply for counselling?

    You are eligible to receive free counselling from an Approved Counsellor if you are psychologically, emotionally and/or have been physically injured:

    • as a result of an act of violence (assault) in NSW; or
    • as a result of witnessing an act of violence; or
    • as a result of learning of the act of violence and you are the parent or guardian of a primary victim who was under the age of 18 years at the time of the act of violence; or
    • preventing someone from committing an act of violence in NSW, or
    • arresting someone who is committing, or has just committed an act of violence, or
    • helping or rescuing someone against whom an act of violence is being committed, or has just been committed.
    • Family members of homicide victims where the offence occurred in NSW. A family member is:
      • the victim’s spouse 
      • the victim’s defacto spouse, or same sex partner who has lived with the victim for at least two years
      • a parent, step-parent or guardian of the victim 
      • a child or step-child of the victim, or other child of whom the victim was the guardian 
      • a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister of the victim.

    Counselling for the family of a person killed by a motor vehicle

    The immediate family of a person who is killed by a motor vehicle can apply for counselling only if the death occurred in the commission of murder or manslaughter. Contact us for more information.

    Applying for counselling

    Click the link for information on how to apply for counselling or discuss your needs with the Client Service Team through the Victims Access Line.