New training and education programmes for prosecutors, court staff and the judiciary to better understand the impacts of sexual violence on victims will help improve victims’ experiences of the court process, says Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams.
“We know that sexual violence has the lowest reporting rate of all offences, caused in part by victims’ concerns about the court process,” Ms Adams says.
“Victims’ trauma can be made worse if those involved in the court process are unfamiliar with the effects of sexual offending on victims, including anxiety, fear and self-blame.
“That’s why we’re investing $1.24 million in a package of initiatives to build better understanding which will help make victims’ experiences of the justice system less traumatic and more accessible.”
The funding, which comes from the Justice Sector Fund, will enable the Institute of Judicial Studies to provide judicial education and will deliver new Solicitor-General’s guidelines for prosecuting sexual violence cases.
“In addition, it will develop new online guidance and information with input from specialists so that victims and their supporters can easily access information explaining what help is available, how sexual violence offences are investigated and what to expect in the court process,” Ms Adams says.
“These initiatives form a component of the Government’s wider investment in sexual violence prevention and supporting victims. They will build on existing good practice such as the Sexual Violence Court pilot and the Victims Code, as well as the work being done by the Chief Victims’ Advisor and the National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate.”
The initiatives implement operational changes recommended in the Law Commission report on the justice response to victims of sexual violence. The Government is continuing to consider other recommendations that require legislative change.