20.7 C
Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Local courts to have remote witness rooms for domestic, family and sexual violence evidence

Latest News

10pm Monday – update of COVID venues of concern

The Northern NSW Local Health District has been notified of a number of venues of concern associated with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region.

Other News

The old slouch hat

‘This is my favourite,’ we say espite the painfully obvious fact that we all, from time to time enjoy a wide variety...

A new COVID-19 case flies into the Far North Coast

The Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there is a new case of COVID-19 in Northern NSW today, and they will be included in NSW Health’s official reporting tomorrow.

Champion a cause

Delighted to read Dan Reade’s letter (September 1) calling for everyone to take a new cause to champion. I...

Planning staff back Wilsons Creek DA, residents’ concerns downplayed

Residents living near a proposed 15-lot housing development in Wilsons Creek say it will negatively impact a precious wildlife corridor on the site, exacerbate traffic safety problems on the surrounding roads, and damage the peaceful character of their quiet enclave.

The Greens and Ballina Council

With the Greens announcing their intention to contest the Ballina Shire local government election to be held in December...

New cases of COVID-19 below 1,000 for the first time in 25 days

In what is now a general press conference, the Premier spoke to media at 11am this morning about the pandemic and other business.

Photo David Lowe.

Lismore and Byron Bay courthouses are to be outfitted with remote witness rooms that will facilitate vulnerable witnesses being able to provide evidence via videolink.

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin welcomed this NSW Government initiative as it would make victim/survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence , mainly women and children but some men, feel safer when giving evidence in our court system.

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘The NSW Government passed legislation to allow complainants to give evidence remotely via audio visual link, and now Federal funding would enable Lismore Courthouse to establish a new witness room to conduct it well and safely,’ Ms Saffin told The Echo.

Lismore courthouse.

Lismore Courthouse will be provided wit a new remote witness room, state-of-the-art audio-visual link equipment, acoustic panelling, new furniture and secure access doors. Byron Bay Courthouse will receive a new remote witness room, state-of-the-art audio-visual link equipment and an upgraded safe room.

The works for both courthouses 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 contracts for Lismore and Byron Bay courthouses have been awarded to Intrec Management Pty Ltd. Start dates are currently being finalised and the stimulus projects will be completed by the end of the year.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith.

Tamara Smith, State Member for Ballina, told The Echo that she ‘welcomes the upgrading of  technology in our local courthouses and modernising them in line with good practices worldwide.’

‘The cost and inconvenience of travelling to a court as a witness is significant and is ultimately borne by tax payers. However, all accused persons and witnesses should have the right to give testimony in person if that is their wish. Remote witness statements should always be offered in the interests of safety and well being for witnesses, and justice for accused persons. It should not be a cost cutting exercise.’

Ben Franklin being sworn back into the senate as parliamentary secretary for energy and the arts after a failed bid in the lower house in 2019. Photo supplied.

Nationals Member of the Legislative Council Ben Franklin said this was a positive step forward for victim-survivors to be able to feel more secure in reporting abuse and giving evidence in court.

‘Remote witness rooms mean that victim-survivors do not have to face their alleged abuser or feel intimidated in the court room. They can give evidence from a secure and safe room via videolink to help them feel more comfortable,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘Speaking in a courtroom can be a daunting experience, especially for those who have faced trauma, and it takes courage so I’m glad our region will have two new remote witness rooms to support victim-survivors.’

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.

‘These investments are 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.’

Self-representation banned

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 (AVDO) 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.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

A new COVID-19 case flies into the Far North Coast

The Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there is a new case of COVID-19 in Northern NSW today, and they will be included in NSW Health’s official reporting tomorrow.

Found – Have you seen Steve? Missing person

Mullumbimby man Steve Mustchin went missing at 11am this morning from Byron Bay Hospital and his family are asking locals to keep an eye out for him.

Images released of men who robbed the Byron Bowlo

Detectives investigating the armed robbery of a licensed premises in Byron Bay earlier this year, have released CCTV images and are appealing for public information that may assist their inquiries.

New Nesbitt Park mountain bike skills course in Lismore

Though Lismore is currently in lockdown, the city has inaugurated a new sporting activity in Nesbitt Park that will make residents want to enjoy outdoors as soon as possible.