DOMESTIC violence complainants and other vulnerable witnesses will be empowered to give their best evidence in court thanks to new remote witness rooms and safe rooms to be built at two Parramatta courthouses.
Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said at Parramatta Children’s Court, a new remote witness room and a safe room will be installed, alongside upgrades to an existing safe room.
In addition, Parramatta Local Court will have three new remote witness rooms constructed, and the existing safe room will be upgraded with a kitchenette, new furniture and secure access.
“It is heartening to see our community benefit from this investment, which will help vulnerable people feel safer to come to court,” Dr Lee said.
“These facilities give witnesses private and secure areas to prepare for court and to give their best evidence.”
The projects, part of $9M in COVID-19 Commonwealth stimulus funding, includes state-of-the-art audio-visual link (AVL) equipment.
Upgrades of essential safety features, funded from the NSW Government’s $100M Sustaining Critical Infrastructure Program, announced in the November 2020 budget, will take place at the same time.
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said witnesses have commonly been through serious trauma and coming to court can be very stressful.
“This is particularly true for victim-survivors of domestic, family, and sexual violence,” Mr Speakman said.
“This is part of our ongoing commitment to support victim-survivors if they choose to report to police, and to help them feel confident in coming to court.”
Later this year, self-represented defendants will be banned from personally cross examining complainants in domestic violence criminal proceedings and related apprehended domestic violence order proceedings, under new laws passed last November.
As part of the same reforms, complainants in these proceedings also now have a prima facie entitlement to give evidence remotely via AVL and in a closed court.
The contract has been awarded to Intrec Management Pty Ltd. Start dates are currently being finalised and the stimulus project will be completed by the end of the year.