Each situation will be different but there are things you can do.
Try and stay calm and seek support as soon as possible.
Try to remember as much as possible about the incident. Write it down or type notes into your phone straight away. Important things to write down immediately are:
- Contact details for any witnesses
- Names or the ID or badge number for any police
- The details: where and when the incident ocurred.
1. See a doctor
You should go to a doctor as soon as possible. It is essential you ask the doctor to record not only your visible injuries, but also all pain, nerve damage, cartilage damage, tingling, numbness, soreness, aches, stress levels, sleep patterns and thoughts.
cohealth Community health services for Inner, Western and Northern Melbourne
iehealth Inner East Community Health Service in Ashburton, Hawthorn and Richmond.
Community Health Services directory for Victoria
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – doctors for asylum seekers
If you contact a Community Legal Centre for assistance, they may be able to help you get a proper forensic assessment.
If you are in custody, you have the right to see a forensic medical officer, or go to hospital.
At the hospital or clinic:
- If it is not a life-threatening injury consider visiting a doctor or a clinic you trust.
- Record the names of all treating doctors/ healthcare professionals who see your wound(s)
- If appropriate – tell hospital staff how you were hurt.
- Wounds like broken ribs, concussion or torn ligaments don’t show up when photographed so ask the medical staff to write up all your injuries in detail.
- Ask for a copy of your notes, x-ray, scans (you might not be allowed them but ask anyway).
Keep all follow-up care or Doctor appointments!
2. Obtain CCTV footage of the assault
You only have 31 days to request CCTV footage from public spaces such as train stations and police stations through Freedom of Information (FOI). This valuable evidence will be destroyed after 31 days have passed.
3. Take photos of your injuries
- Take photos as soon as possible – severe injuries may heal quickly depending on your physical health and nutritional status.
- Get a trusted friend to take a picture of your whole body before zooming in for detailed shots of the injured area
- Stand in front of an uncluttered, neutral coloured wall.
- Take images from an assortment of angles and think about who might be scrutinizing these photos at a latter date
- To get perspective take photos with a ruler or something of standard size (like a coin) next to the injury.
- Use the ‘Date & Time’ tagging function on a digital camera to show the injury changing over a period of time.
- Darker skin may not show up injuries so take photos in a well lit place, and be careful with a flash as this may bleach out, or reflect off the skin and make the bruising look lighter than it actually is.
- Keep a diary of the injury as it heals and how it effects your quality of life.
- Remember bruises will darken and grow over time.
- Store all your paperwork, images and evidence in a secure place.
- Keep all follow-up care or Doctor appointments!
Adapted from: Melbourne Street Medic Collective
4. Get support
You need to get support through as many ways as possible. Friends and family are important, it is also good to reach out to youth workers, advocacy agencies, legal centres, counsellors, community agencies, people in your community, teachers, fellow workers. Some people experience extreme fear and distress. Get support. Local youth workers and community supports can be extremely helpful in helping you through the process.
See: Links for Support
5. See a solicitor
See a solicitor as soon as you can to talk about your complaint and other legal options. There is a 3 year limitation period on civil litigation.
To see if the Police Accountability Project can help you please fill out this online Intake Assessment Form.
If you have been charged by the police and want advice and representation, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. To find out if you are eligible for legal aid, you can call Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm.
Criminal law firms who may be able to assist you (for a fee) include:
• Stary Norton Halphen 8622 8200
• Doogue O’Brien George 9670 5111
• Melinda Walker 9388 2711
• Fitzroy Legal Service 9419 3744
• Armstrong Legal 1300 168 676
If you want legal advice about suing the police for compensation for what happened to you, we recommend that you get advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There are time limits that apply, and most cases need to be filed in court within 3 years of the incident or the injury. You should seek advice as soon as possible, because you may not be able to start legal proceedings if you leave it too late.
Private lawyers who may be able to assist with (no win/no fee) litigation include:
• Robinson Gill 9890 3321
• Adviceline Lawyers 9321 9988
You are free to contact people on this list, or search elsewhere. Firms are not listed because they provide donations to our Centre. They are listed because we believe that they undertake quality legal services in this area.
There may be other legal services who could also assist you. You may be able to find them through an internet search or through contacting the Law Institute of Victoria, on 03 9607 9311.
Make a complaint
In order for your complaint to be investigated and lead to discipline/prosecution, you may need to make a complaint.
You can make a complaint to Victoria Police or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
If you complain to IBAC it is most likely your complaint will be forwarded to the Victoria Police. At present in Victoria, the vast majority of complaints are investigated or managed by police.
Speak to a solicitor about these options. They can help you through any investigation process.
If you wish to file a complaint without the assistance of a solicitor, you can use the Police Complaints Chatbot. Anyone who has experienced police misconduct can have a simple online conversation with the chatbot, which then drafts a formal letter of complaint and instructs you how to lodge the complaint with IBAC or VicPol.
The Police Accountability Project provides advice to people across Victoria about misconduct by Victoria Police and Protective Service Officers. Tel: 03 9328 1885
For more information about making a complaint, please see The Decision to Complain and Links for Support.
Sample-letter-to-PSC (WORD document) A sample letter to submit a complaint about police to the Professional Standards Command (PSC) in Victoria.
FOI request letter – VicPolice (WORD document) A sample Freedom of Information Request letter to send to Victoria Police.
FOI request letter – PTV (WORD document) Freedom of Information Request letter to send to Public Transport Victoria
What are my legal options?
In Victoria there are four potential avenues to seek compensation:
1. Victims of Crime Application
2. Taking Civil Action against the police (ie taking them to court).
3. Making a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission(VEOHRC)* or Australian Human Rights Commission
Note: a complaint can only be made to VEOHRC about police conduct under the Equal Opportunity Act (Vic) or the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (Vic)
4. Writing directly to the Victoria Police for compensation under their asset management guidelines in the Victoria Police Manual.
Under international law, where you allege the police have violated your rights you are entitled to:
a) compensation if your rights are found to have been violated.
b) an effective investigation of your allegations capable of leading to the discipline and prosecution of the police involved.
c) the Victoria Police to learn any lessons to reduce the chances of further violations.