​Special provisions in court for children and sexual assault victims

There are a number of services available to provide you with support at court. For contact details please refer to the Help and Support page.

There are several different ways the court might be able to make it easier for you to give evidence. You should speak to the prosecutor to check if these options are available to you. The Judge or Magistrate will decide if any of these options can be used when you give evidence.

 

Closed courts

If you are a victim of a sexual assault, the courtroom can be closed to members of the public who are not directly involved in the case whilst you are giving evidence and being cross-examined.

Screens

If you are a victim of a sexual assault and you have to go into the courtroom to give your evidence, the Judge or Magistrate can allow for a screen to be placed in front of the accused person so that you can't see them whilst you are in the witness stand.

Non-publication orders

If you are under 16 years of age or the victim of a sexual assault and have to give evidence at court, your name or any other details that identify you are not allowed to be published or broadcast in the media.

Support persons

If you are a child or a victim of sexual assault you are allowed to have at least one support person with you when you give your evidence.

You can choose where this person sits when you give evidence. They can sit near you or sit somewhere that you can see them. You can have a support person if you give evidence in court, or if you are using the CCTV facilities.

It's important to discuss who is going to be your support person with the Witness Assistance Officer, the ODPP lawyer or the police officer. Your support person cannot be a witness in the case. More information for court support people.

Children

Child witnesses are treated differently by our legal system in recognition of their special needs.
There are specific provisions for child witnesses to help them through the court process such as CCTV, screens and video/audio evidence.

For more information contact the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). Visit the ODDP website for contact details.

Pre-recorded interview as evidence-in-chief

If you were under 16 years of age when you were first interviewed by the police and your interview was recorded on audio or video tape, your evidence-in-chief will usually be your taped interview. You will still be cross-examined by the defence lawyer.

Using recorded evidence-in-chief and cross-examination in re-trials

If you are a victim of sexual assault and there is an aborted trial, a hung jury or a re-trial, you may not have to give evidence again. The best copy of your evidence-in-chief and cross-examination can be used in any following trials.
The best copy of your evidence may be the transcript, an audio recording, or a video recording.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) or remote witness video facilities

If you are a child or a victim of a sexual assault you are able to use the CCTV facilities at the courthouse or at another location. Take a look at a CCTV room.

CCTV links you with the courtroom using cameras and TV screens. This means you don't have to go into the courtroom to give you evidence.

You will be able to see, hear and speak to the Judge or Magistrate and the Prosecutor and Defence lawyer. Everyone in the courtroom will be able to see and hear you.
Only the Judge or Magistrate or Prosecutor and Defence lawyer can talk to you.

Other witnesses may also be able to use CCTV. If you have concerns about giving your evidence in court and you feel you need to use these facilities, ask the prosecutor if you are able to use CCTV.

In the CCTV room

If you are using CCTV, you will be in a room separate from the courtroom. There will be a court officer with you and your support person if you have one. You will see the Magistrate or Judge, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer.

The Magistrate or Judge might ask you if you can see and hear them. Sometimes there can be problems with the equipment. If you can't see the Magistrate's or Judge's face on the screen, just say so. If you can't hear what is being said clearly, let the Judge know.

You should not see the accused person. If you can see the accused, it is a mistake and you or your support person, if you have one, should let the court officer know. The accused will be moved to where you can't see him or her.

Support persons attending CCTV room

The remote witness room is part of the court. For the safety of witnesses their location is confidential.
Support person(s) and other people in the remote witness room will be visible to the Judicial officer at all times, even if the video and audio is shut down temporarily.

A child witness may have one or more support persons with them while they give evidence.

Adult complainants of sexual assault offences may have one support person with them while giving evidence via closed circuit television. This should be cleared with the Judicial officer.

Procedures

The Sheriff's Officer should ascertain who will be in the Remote Witness Room and their role, and alert the court.

The Sheriff/Court Officer should sit so that they will be visible to the court, but pose no distraction to the witness.

Any interpreter with the witness will sit next to the witness so as to have the prominent microphone position, and also be visible to the court. Auslan interpreters will sit facing the witness but also need to be in view of the court.

The witness is entitled to have a support person(s) present in the room. If the court considers it reasonable to do so, the court may make a decision to have such a support person near the witness, and within the witness's sight when the witness is giving evidence. This person(s) should also be visible to the court.

The support person can assist the witness with any difficulty in giving evidence associated with a disability, or for the purpose of providing a child witness with other support.

The support person should quietly inform the Sheriff's/Court Officer of any problems such as difficulties with hearing what is being asked or if the witness is having any difficulties requiring a break (for example child witness needing to go to the toilet, witness is distressed, witness is having breathing difficulties, or witness is indicating ill health during an adjournment).

In the event of an interruption in transmission from the courtroom or failure of the equipment, the support person(s) should on no account speak to the witness about the case or her/his evidence during any interruption in the proceedings although the support person(s) is permitted to comfort the witness during the interruption.

For a child witness the support person can be seated near the child and within the child's sight. The support person can sit next to a child witness.

Reading of a Victim Impact Statement via CCTV

If a witness has given his/her evidence via CCTV, then the he/she is also entitled to read out part or all of their Victim Impact Statement (if any) via CCTV.