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​Law paves way for children's champions

Issued: Thursday, 22 October 2015

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The victims of child sexual assault will now be better supported through the courts with new laws paving the way for the pilot of Children’s Champions and the pre-recording of evidence, Attorney General Gabrielle Upton today announced.

The NSW Government will introduce the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill 2015 which delivers on its election promise to pilot measures that better support the victims of child sexual assault including the use of Children’s Champions and the pre-recording of evidence.

Ms Upton said the victims of child sexual assault deserve our unwavering support, care and compassion, particularly during the stressful court process.

“Children’s Champions will be there every step of the way to help the victims, as well as to communicate with Police and the courts to ensure children’s voices are heard,” Ms Upton said.

“Additionally, allowing victims to pre-record their evidence as early as possible will dramatically reduce the stress and trauma of being part of the court process.”

The three year pilot will operate in the NSW District Court in Newcastle and Sydney from 31 March next year.

Ms Upton thanked the Child Sexual Assault Taskforce for their work on developing the pilot scheme. The Taskforce brought together experts from agencies that investigate, prosecute, defend and hear child sexual assault matters.

The Bill implements recommendations of the 2014 Joint Select Committee into Sentencing of Child Sexual Assault Offenders contained in its Report Every Sentence Tells a Story. That Report recommended procedural reforms to reduce the stress and duration of court proceedings for vulnerable child witnesses in child sexual assault cases. The reforms in the Bill also respond to recommendations of the NSW Ombudsman’s 2012 Report Responding to Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities.

The pilot of Children’s Champions and pre-recording of evidence are the latest steps taken by the NSW Government to better protect and deliver justice for child sexual assault victims. We have already increased the maximum sentence for sexual intercourse with a child under 10 from 25 years to life imprisonment, included an additional 13 child sexual assault offences in the Standard Non-Parole Period Scheme and appointed two specialist District Court Judges who will hear child sexual assault matters across the State.