SAFE spaces and modern facilities to help empower domestic and sexual violence survivors and other vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence in court have been upgraded/installed at Parramatta Local Court and Parramatta Children’s Court.
Member for Parramatta Dr Geoff Lee said the projects would help ensure witnesses felt more secure when attending court.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting victim-survivors if they choose to report to police, and it is good to know that these facilities are available to support them and help alleviate the trauma of coming to court,” Dr Lee said.
Completed works include:
- Parramatta Local Court – three new remote witness rooms, an upgraded safe room, kitchenette and secure access doors
- Parramatta Children’s Court – a new remote witness room, a new safe room, secure access doors and a new bathroom
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the now completed works utilised $9M of COVID-19 stimulus funding from the previous federal government to deliver new or upgraded safe rooms and remote witness rooms in metropolitan and regional courthouses.
“Under the NSW Government’s domestic violence reforms, complainants in domestic violence criminal proceedings and related apprehended domestic violence order proceedings have a prima facie entitlement to give evidence remotely via audio visual
and in a closed court,” Mr Speakman said.
“These new and upgraded facilities give vulnerable witnesses the private, secure areas they need to prepare for court and to provide evidence.”
Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said the prospect of having to face an alleged abuser, or their family members, in open court can re-traumatise and exacerbate the stress of having to testify in court.
“This is about further protecting and minimising the trauma of domestic violence victimsurvivors,” Mrs Ward said.
In total, there are now 154 remote witness rooms and eight rooms that are directly connected to a courtroom at 100 locations in NSW. In addition, there are 84 safe rooms at 77 court locations in NSW.
Mr Speakman said the NSW Government has delivered a number of significant legislative reforms and resources to maintain the right to a fair trial while promoting a trauma-informed approach to court processes, including:
- Landmark affirmative consent reforms which were accompanied by five new jury directions to address common sexual assault misconceptions and ‘rape myths’, research into victim-survivors’ experiences with the criminal justice process, and the expansion of the successful “Make No Doubt” consent education campaign
- $5.6M in funding to support the implementation of the NSW Government’s coercive control reforms, which passed the Legislative Assembly on October 19, 2022. The funding will enable coercive control training and education, including for police, lawyers and judges, as well as public awareness raising campaigns.
Expanding the ban on direct cross-examination by self-represented accused of complainants in sexual offence proceedings to complainants in domestic violence criminal and related proceedings, through the use of an intermediary ‘Court Appointed Questioner’