Over $18 million for Legal Aid Queensland to protect DFV witnesses
Published Friday, 17 February, 2023 at 10:57 AM
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) has received funding to ensure that victims of domestic and family violence are not further victimised by perpetrators in court.
Additional funding of $18.6 million over 4 years has been provided to support additional legal representation so that witnesses are cross-examined by a trained lawyer rather than the defendant.
This follows amendments introduced into Parliament last year to the Evidence Act that will make victims of domestic violence offences protected witnesses.
Protected witnesses cannot be cross-examined by an unrepresented defendant.
An accused person who refuses legal assistance to cross-examine a protected witness cannot personally conduct the cross-examination.
The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce found that perpetrators may use the court process to continue to harm or intimidate their victims.
This funding is a further demonstration of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to keeping women safe, and to build a criminal justice system that better supports victims of violence.
Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General and Minister for DFV Prevention Shannon Fentiman:
“We know it can be extremely traumatic for victims of DFV to give evidence in court, and that the prospect of being cross-examined by a perpetrator may be so frightening that victims may not be able to give their best evidence, or not give it at all.”
“This was a recommendation from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, and I am proud that this government has taken its recommendations so seriously.”
“Together with the proposed amendments to the Evidence Act, this $18.6 million will ensure that the courts’ processes cannot be used to inflict further suffering upon those who need the courts’ protection.”
Media Contact: Phoenix Campbell 0439 949 719