Child complainants and the court process in Australia

Author(s)Richards, Kelly
Title Child complainants and the court process in Australia
Source Australian Institute of Criminology - Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 380 , 2009, Canberra
Date 2009
Document type Research report
Coverage Australia
Summary This paper outlines some of the problems experienced by children giving evidence in Australian criminal courts, particularly child victims of sexual assault. These problems include understanding of legal language by children and the research also suggests jurors view child witnesses as unreliable, partly because they often delay in reporting sexual abuse. The paper then considers some of the responses to the problems experienced by child witnesses, including physical modifications to the courtroom, such as adding screens or having closed courts. The use of closed-circuit television and the use of pre-recorded evidence is discussed. Other initiatives include using support persons, restrictions on attending committal hearings, and restrictions on cross-examination by the accused. Suggestions for future research are included, such as judicial perceptions of children's evidence and how children experience the initiatives already introduced.
Keywords Child complainants; criminal justice system; evidence; witnesses; sexual assault
Topic Victims rights