Sexual offence complainants, domestic violence complainants and other vulnerable witnesses will be empowered to give their best evidence in court thanks to a new remote witness room under construction at Penrith Courthouse.
Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres said the project, part of $9 million in COVID-19 Commonwealth stimulus funding, includes installation of a state-of-the-art audio visual (AVL), and an upgraded and more secure safe room.
“It is heartening to see our community benefit from this investment, which will help vulnerable people feel safer to come to court,” Mr Ayres said.
“These facilities give witnesses private and secure areas 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 very stressful.
“This is particularly true for victim-survivors of domestic, family, and sexual violence,” Mr Speakman said.
“These works 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.”
As part 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.
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.