Vulnerable witnesses

You may feel anxious about giving evidence as a witness in court. This is a common for many people.

You may also be fearful or intimidated if you have to face the accused in court, particularly if the case involves any of the following: 

  • family or sexual violence
  • children
  • witnesses with special needs.

Under the law, the following types of witnesses are considered to be vulnerable:

  • a child
  • a witness who suffers from an intellectual disability
  • a witness who is an alleged victim of sexual offence
  • a witness who is fearful of harassment or retribution.

Special treatment as a vulnerable witness

You can apply to the court to be a vulnerable witness.

This means you will have special treatment in the courtroom, such as:

  • you can have a support person with you in the witness box
  • there may be a screen or partition so you can’t see the accused
  • the court may be closed to the public
  • you may be able to give your evidence over closed circuit television, meaning you are not in the same room as the accused. Not all courts can provide this.

How to apply 

You should talk to the Witness Assistance Service (WAS) who will help you apply.

The court will decide whether you are a vulnerable witness.

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Last updated: 19 September 2017