DOMESTIC violence complainants and other vulnerable witnesses will be empowered to give their best evidence in court thanks to a new remote witness room to be built at Kempsey Courthouse.
Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, said the project, part of $9 million in COVID-19 Commonwealth stimulus funding, includes state-of-the-art audio visual link equipment, new furniture and secure access doors.
"It is heartening to see our region benefit from this investment, which will help vulnerable people feel safer to come to court," Ms Pavey said.
"This facility will give witnesses a private and secure area to prepare for court and to give their best evidence."
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 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 audio visual link and in a closed court.
The works will also include upgrades of essential safety features, funded from the NSW Government's $100 million Sustaining Critical Infrastructure Program, announced in the November 2020 budget. 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.
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