Statutes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Act 2015
Statutes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Act 2015
Wednesday 1 June 2016
Recording only - Panel Discussion
Length: 1 hour 54 minutes
Recorded on 1 June 2016

Presenters / Panel Members:
His Honour Judge Gordon Barrett, District Court of South Australia
Stephen Brock, Attorney General's Department
Mark Norman SC, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
David Plater, Attorney-General’s Department
Andrew English, Legal Services Commission
Anthony Allen, Len King Chambers
Inspector Catherine Hilliard, Special Crime Investigation, SAPOL
Michael O’Connell, Commissioner Victims of Crime

David Caruso, President, Law Society of South Australia

The Statutes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Act 2015 comes into effect on 1 July 2016 with major legislative and other reforms that are applicable to vulnerable witnesses, victims and defendants. The new Acts applies to both children and persons with an intellectual disability. The criminal justice system in essence is being challenged to adapt to the needs of vulnerable parties, not the other way around. It is doing so to promote inclusion and full participation of vulnerable people whether as suspects, accused, witnesses or victims in the criminal justice system both in and out of court. Guidelines have been developed for each step of the criminal justice process for questioning vulnerable parties within the system from initial contact to trial. Advocates (prosecutors and defence counsel) will be required to use different language when questioning any vulnerable party to ensure fairness and the accuracy of testimony.

This panel discussion discusses the implications of the new Act and aims to raise awareness within the legal profession of the needs of all parties with disability and the impact the new Act and the guidelines will have on everyone involved. Lawyers and Judicial officers are going to have to learn new styles and techniques.

In addition to this seminar, the Law Society will host a further seminar 28 June 2016 that will provide an overview and insight into the needs of vulnerable parties and the skills required when questioning them and the Society recommends practitioners attend both seminars. The Society is giving consideration to further training requirements for the profession and practitioners are encouraged to express interest if they would like to attend a more intensive training workshop.

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