Safe room upgrades at five Hunter courthouses

Some of the Hunter’s courthouses have benefited from a share in $9 million of stimulus funding from the Morrison Government.

The upgrade particularly focused on new remote witness rooms and upgrades to safe rooms to help empower domestic violence complainants and other vulnerable witnesses so they can give their best evidence in court.

The courthouse upgrades included:

  • Belmont Courthouse – new remote witness room, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, air conditioning and secure access doors;
  • Cessnock Courthouse – upgraded safe room, new kitchenette, furniture and secure access;
  • Maitland Courthouse – upgraded safe room and remote witness room, stateof-the-art audio-visual equipment, new furniture and secure access doors;
  • Newcastle Courthouse – upgraded remote witness room, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, new furniture and secure access; and
  • Toronto Courthouse – upgraded remote witness room, state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, acoustic treatment to the walls and secure access.

“These new facilities will give vulnerable witnesses private, secure areas to prepare for court and to provide testimony, therefore enabling them to give their best evidence during proceedings,” Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said.

“Having to potentially face your abuser, or their family members, in open court can clearly exacerbate the stress of coming to testify, which is why these safe and remote facilities are so valuable.”

Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said these facilities meant vulnerable people would feel safer when coming to court.

“Victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence have commonly been through serious trauma and coming to court can be an understandably stressful experience,” Mark Speakman said.

“Our government is committed to supporting victim-survivors if they choose to report to police, and we want them to know that these discrete facilities are available to support them and to help alleviate the trauma of testifying when they come to court.”

As part of a suite of reforms passed last November, complainants in domestic violence criminal proceedings and related apprehended domestic violence order proceedings now have a prima facie entitlement to give evidence remotely via AVL and in a closed court.

For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63), NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017) or Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491). In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

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