Sydney, – Australia’s state of New South Wales (NSW) has been upgrading its courthouses for more safe spaces to help empower domestic and sexual violence survivors to testify without fear.
The NSW government said on Monday that it had prepared additional safe rooms where victims could prepare for court privately, and remote witness rooms where they could provide evidence via audio-visual link (AVL).
This had been done in 45 courthouses across the state, meant to alleviate survivors’ trauma and ensure fair trials.
“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 audiovisual and in a closed court,’’ said NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman.
“These new and upgraded facilities give vulnerable witnesses the private, secure areas they need to prepare for court and to provide evidence.’’
According to a report released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in June; domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation incidents recorded by the police increased by 110 per cent from 2012 to 2021.
NSW Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence, Natalie Ward, said that the prospect of having to face an alleged abuser or their family members in open court could re-traumatise and exacerbate the stress of having to testify in court.
“These new safe rooms and remote witness facilities enhance support for the courageous victims who come forward to report abuse.’’ (Xinhua/NAN