Victim Support ACT (VSACT) provides access to free and confidential counselling under the Victims Services Scheme.
Who can access counselling though VSACT?
- A person who is impacted by experiencing a crime in the ACT
- A person who has experienced family violence or sexual assault in the ACT
- A family member(s) of a person who has experienced a crime in the ACT
- A family member(s) of a person who has died by homicide in the ACT
- A person who has witnessed a crime in the ACT
If you contact VSACT a case coordinator will talk with you about what you need. They will ask you if you would like to access counselling and / or other therapeutic services to help you to recover from the crime.
Counselling is provided by approved private practitioners (external providers). A case coordinator will find out what you might want from counselling and will work to find a counsellor that fits your needs. VSACT covers the payment. Clients are given as much choice as possible in selecting their preferred counsellor.
VSACT can pay for at least two massage sessions for you. Massage can assist with reducing physical tension. Reducing physical tension can sometimes help us to feel less stressed.
You can choose to access counselling or massage from VSACT. Or you can choose to access counselling and massage.
All victims of crime in the ACT can access some counselling through VSACT.
If you experienced a property crime, such as burglary or theft of a motor vehicle, you can access 2 hours of counselling and/or massage.
If you experienced a personal crime, such as sexual assault, family violence or assault, you can access 8 hours of counselling initially. If you find the counselling helpful, then the counsellor you are linked with can ask for more time – usually an additional 12 hours, making a total of 20 hours of counselling.
It is possible to extend the counselling hours beyond 20 hours in certain circumstances if it will assist your recovery.
The counsellors and massage therapists that VSACT works with are assessed for their qualifications and experience. After being approved, the providers become members of a ‘panel’ of providers.
Regulation 41 of the Victims of Crime Regulation 2000 sets out the criteria for the Victims Crime Commissioner to consider before approving a person as a service provider.
If you decide you want to have counselling through VSACT, your case coordinator will have some regular communication with the counsellor.
When VSACT has found a counsellor that can work with you, the case coordinator will give the counsellor some information about you, including your name, contact phone number, the crime you experienced and any goals for counselling that you have decided on.
After eight hours of counselling, your counsellor will provide your case coordinator with a progress report or closure report. A progress report summarises what has been covered in counselling and allows your case coordinator to approve more hours if you want them. A closure report summarises what has been covered in counselling and why the counselling is finishing.
The Victims of Crime Regulation 2000 requires progress reports and closure reports. That is why this information is shared between counsellor and case coordinator.
For more information see the Approved Provider Guidelines (pdf 327).
Is counselling confidential?
Counselling is confidential. The specific counsellor you see will explain the boundaries of this confidentiality and exactly who will have access to the information discussed (for example, team members, supervisors). If you have questions about others accessing information, please discuss this with your counsellor.
How do I choose the right counsellor?
VSACT offers a choice of trained counsellors, psychologists, and social workers for counselling.
You can change counsellors if you find that the counselling is not right for you.
How long are counselling appointments?
In general a counselling session goes for 50-60 minutes.
How often do I need to go?
Frequency is generally once a fortnight but may be negotiated with your counsellor.
Can I change counsellors?
If you feel that counselling is not going well, you have a few options. If you feel comfortable to do so, you could tell your counsellor that you think it’s not going well – they might explore this with you and together you can get things back on track.
Sometimes people do not feel comfortable to raise their concerns with their counsellor, or they just feel like the counsellor is a bad ‘fit’ for them. If you feel that way, please contact us and we will explore whether a new counsellor can be found for you.
It may take some time to find a new counsellor, but we will try. The hours you have used with the first provider will have to come off the hours you are entitled to.