Specialist Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Court trial in the Illawarra

NSW Labor has announced the Illawarra will be a trial site for a specialist Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Court – as part of a plan to streamline the criminal justice system and provide better support to the victims of these horrendous crimes.

Labor today announced that if elected it will introduce specialist domestic violence and sexual assault courts.

These courts already operate in many jurisdictions around the world – and provide a number of advantages including reducing the trauma experienced by victims of these crimes.

Under Labor’s commitment, we will establish:

  • a specialist Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault court in the first term of a Labor Government;
  • an expert committee who will advise on the best model for the courts; and
  • a metropolitan trial site in Sydney and regional trial sites in the Hunter and the Illawarra

These specialist courts will offer greater consistency and efficiency in the handling of domestic violence and sexual assault cases. They will provide an improved experience for victims and an improved justice system that will lead to better outcomes, including higher rates of reporting, prosecution, convictions and sentencing.

These courts will also develop specialist knowledge, best practice and improve procedural measures through feedback from victims, legal practitioners and other court users.

Specialist courts are not a new concept – with drug courts which operating in NSW for more than 15 years with significant benefits to the community.

A study found that people who commit a drug-related crime are less likely to reoffend if they are sentenced through the NSW Drug Court rather than a traditional court; the Drug Court was also found to be more cost effective – costing approximately $2 million a year less than treating the same offenders through the traditional legal system.

A specialist court for domestic violence and sexual assault is the next logical step in providing the right support model for victims of these despicable crimes, because everybody deserves to feel safe in their own home.

In Focus: The Illawarra

In the Illawarra, we’ve seen an increase in the number of domestic violence related assaults – with more than 1,000 cases reported in the region in the past year alone.

On top of that, more than 450 cases of sexual assault, indecent assault and other sexual offences were also reported last year. It is clear the people of the Illawarra need this recourse more than ever.

A Labor Government will make reducing domestic and sexual violence a top priority, including supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible, in a way that minimises trauma to the victim.

Labor will establish this much-needed specialised sexual assault and domestic violence court in its first term – and our region will host a trial court, so victims in the Illawarra can get this important support.

Reducing trauma experienced by the victim, and higher rates of prosecution, convictions and sentencing of perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence – these are the key benefits of specialised courts that Illawarra locals need urgently.

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