There are special arrangements in place for victims of sexual assault and family violence who are required to give evidence. These arrangements apply to adult victims, child victims and victims with a cognitive impairment.
Special arrangements for adult victims giving evidence include:
In sexual assault matters, the legislation states that the judge must allow for any or all of these arrangements to be made.
In family violence matters, the barrister engaged by the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) can ask the judge for any or all of these arrangements to be made. The judge will decide which arrangements will be made available in each individual case
Child victims and witnesses with a cognitive impairment give evidence at what is known as a Special Hearing. The purpose of the Special Hearing is to limit the number of times such a witness is required to give evidence. The evidence of the witness is video recorded and then played to a jury at the trial.
The Charter of Advocacy: Prosecuting or Defending Sexual Assault Cases, produced by the Department of Justice, recognises the specific challenges for victims of sexual assault who are required to give evidence in court.
It reflects and reinforces the ethical obligations required of practitioners under the Victims’ Charter and the legislation which gives additional rights to victims of sexual assault who are required to give evidence.
The charter represents appropriate conduct in sexual assault matters. It is one of a number of initiatives to promote a culture across the legal profession which recognises the challenges of prosecuting and defending sexual assault matters, and seeks to minimise the trauma for victims of sexual assault in the court room.View the Charter here