Better protection for vulnerable witnesses

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 at the Dubbo and Mudgee Courthouses.

Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said the projects would help ensure witnesses felt more secure when attending court.

“We want more victim-survivors to report crimes to police, and we’re committed to supporting them when they do,” Mr Saunders said.

“It’s important to know these facilities are available to support them and help alleviate the trauma of coming to court.”

Completed works include:

  • Dubbo Courthouse – a new safe room, a new remote witness room, secure access doors and a kitchenette
  • Mudgee Courthouse – a new safe room, a new remote witness room, air-conditioning, bathroom upgrades and secure access doors

The now completed works utilised COVID-19 stimulus funding from the previous federal government. 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.

The government has also delivered significant legislative reforms and resources to maintain the right to a fair trial while promoting a trauma-informed approach, 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
  • $5.6 million 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’

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