The Victims Assistance Program can explain the court process and help you prepare for going to court. Call the Victims of Crime Helpline
on 1800 819 817.

A trained volunteer from Court Network (External link) can show you around the court beforehand, and be with you for your day in court. Call 1800 681 614.

For some serious crimes, the Witness Assistance Service can:

  • give you information about the progress of your case
  • explain the court process
  • support you through meetings with the prosecution team
  • help you with arrangements for being in court
  • connect you with other support services.

Call the Witness Assistance Service (External link) on 1800 641 927.

The Child Witness Service can help children to understand the court process and give their evidence. Call 1300 790 540.

Arriving at court

Get to court at least 30 minutes before the time on your summons or subpoena. Before you leave home, make sure you bring:

  • your summons or subpoena
  • a copy of your written statement you gave to police (if you don't have a copy, ask the police informant for one beforehand)
  • money for food, drinks or car parking
  • something to do. You may have to wait for a while.

If you have children, make sure you organise for someone to look after them on the day.

When you arrive:

  1. there will be a security check at the entrance
  2. find the Daily Court List on the notice board in the foyer of the court
  3. find the accused person’s name on your summons or subpoena
  4. check for the accused person’s name on the Daily Court List, and write down the court room number
  5. if you have any questions, ask at the reception area
  6. go to the court room and wait outside for the police informant.

Rules of the court room

When you go into or leave the court room, you must bow or nod to the judge or magistrate.

When the judge or magistrate goes into or leaves the court room, you must stand up. You can call the judge or magistrate ‘Your Honour’.

In the court room you are not allowed to:

  • eat or drink
  • wear a hat or sunglasses
  • talk while a witness is giving evidence
  • be disruptive at any time
  • use your mobile phone.

Oath or affirmation

When your name is called, you will stand in the witness box at the front of the court room. Before you give evidence, you will have to make a promise to tell the truth. You can choose to take an oath (a religious promise) or to make an affirmation (a non-religious promise).

If you'd prefer to make an affirmation instead of taking an oath, tell the court officer when you arrive at court.

Questions

You may be asked questions by the legal representative of both the prosecution side and the accused person's side. In some cases, the person involved in the crime may be representing themselves and will ask the questions. The judge or magistrate may also ask questions you about your evidence.

When giving evidence: 

  • take your time
  • remain calm and speak clearly 
  • if you don't understand a question or you didn't hear it properly, you can ask for it to be repeated.

If you feel upset or distressed:

  • pause
  • take some deep breaths or have a drink of water
  • try to relax
  • continue only when you are ready.

Once you are excused from the court you are free to leave. You can also stay to see the rest of the hearing from the public seating area of the court.

Evidence from vulnerable witnesses and victims

Generally, a victim or witness will give evidence in the courtroom itself. However, there are special provisions that may be available for particularly vulnerable witnesses. This includes children and people with a cognitive impairment. If this applies to you, special provisions may include:

  • having a friend or relative in court while you give evidence, provided that this support person is not also appearing as a witness
  • having a screen in the court, so you do not have to see the accused person while you give evidence
  • having the court closed to the public while you give evidence
  • giving your evidence on closed circuit television.

Vulnerable witnesses can ask the prosecutor to apply to the court to give evidence using these special provisions. It's up to the judge or magistrate to decide whether to grant permission to use them.