Hearing Support Pilot

Hearing Support Pilot – Newcastle, Belmont and Toronto Local Courts.

Newcastle WDVCAS now has a dedicated hearing support worker at our local courts.

The Hearing Support Worker assists clients in regard to defended hearings in the Local Court for Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) and/or domestic and family violence related criminal charge matters.

The aim of the role is to empower clients to safely participate in the court process and attend hearings.

Benefits of Hearing Support

The dynamics of domestic and family violence mean that victims are frequently subject to ongoing coercion and intimidation from the defendant, often during court proceedings. Unlike other offence types, in domestic and family violence cases there is a high likelihood of ongoing contact between victims and perpetrators between an incident and a resulting court hearing. This risks defendants’ pressuring victims to retract/vary their statements or not attend court. In addition, victims often find the court process intimidating and even traumatising.

Having to recount the details of a violent incident in court is difficult for most victims. This is especially so when the defendant and/or his family is present in court. The court process is sometimes used by an offender as another opportunity to exert power and control over a victim.

Specialist hearing support for victims can help to address these barriers to court attendance and reduce the stress and trauma associated with the court process for victims, including giving evidence as a complainant.