Specialist sex assault courts ignored despite overwhelming support
Successive state governments have spent 15 years ignoring expert recommendations that NSW establish specialist sexual assault courts to reduce victim trauma.
The Criminal Justice Sexual Offences Task Force highlighted this as far back in 2006 but today legal experts are still calling for the same reform.
I suppose whatever report came from this task force, it was dealt with in the way most other reports are dealt with,” former Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, who was a member of the task force, said.
“That is, put on a shelf somewhere and ignored forever.
“There may have been one or two recommendations cherrypicked from it and the government thought: If we do that, we show we are responding to it and we are doing something about it’.”
A pilot program of specialist sexual assault courts is one of three outcomes The Saturday and Sunday Telegraphs are calling for in a campaign focused on sexual violence reforms.
Women’s Safety NSW chief executive officer Hayley Foster said there was already research about the experiences of victims in court.
“We don‘t need to open Pandora’s box and retraumatise a whole heap of people,” she said.
“It‘s dismissing all the experiences of everyone else who has shared their stories.
“There are so many women and men who have already shared their stories of going through the courts.
“The numbers speak for themselves — so many people don’t report, so many people withdraw their charges.”
Ms Foster said specialist courts would involve hand-picked judges who are specifically trained in sexual violence and how it impacts victims, including how they present in court, delays in coming forward and patterns of behaviour in offenders.
To read the full article by Ava Benny-Morrison in the Daily Telegraph, please click here.