The law in Victoria says that you should be protected from the accused during the court process.
As far as possible, the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP), the police and the courts have to make sure that you are protected from unnecessary contact with the accused and the defence witnesses at court. This is done in a number of ways.
For example, some courts have a special waiting room for witnesses who may feel scared or vulnerable when waiting to go into the courtroom.
If you are a victim of a sexual offence you may:
- give your evidence from somewhere other than the courtroom using closed-circuit television
- give your evidence in court with a screen present – so that you can't see the accused person
- have a person of your choice (and approved by the court) beside you to provide emotional support while you give your evidence.
If you are a victim of family violence or sexual assault the accused is not allowed to directly cross-examine you, although their lawyer may do so if the case proceeds to court.
Help and support
The Witness Assistance Service provides assistance in ensuring your safety when at court.
The Witness Assistance Service is available to all victims of crime and witnesses involved in cases handled by the OPP. Specialised social workers can assist victims:
- before, during and after the court process
- with court arrangements
- by providing up-to-date information on the progress of the case
- in relation to committal hearings in the Magistrates' Court (which are handled by the OPP), County and Supreme Courts, and in the Court of Appeal
- in arranging meetings with the legal team (including the solicitor and prosecutor handling the case) before and after the court hearings.
Contact the Witness Assistance Service on (03) 9603 7523 or for country callers, 1800 641 927, or visit the OPP website (external link).