Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012
Provisions for witnesses in domestic violence proceedings
To protect vulnerable witnesses the Act includes placing a positive obligation on the court to consider
putting in place special arrangements when the aggrieved, child or another person who can be
protected by a domestic violence order is giving evidence. These measures can be considered to
reduce the stress or trauma that the witness might otherwise experience.
The safeguards the court might use include:
giving evidence from another location by a video-link
a screen or one-way glass being placed so the witness can not see the respondent while giving
a person approved by the court providing emotional support to the witness in the courtroom
ensuring that where the witness has a physical or mental disability they can give evidence in a
way that will minimise the witness’s distress.
The court will also have the ability to make any other arrangements it considers appropriate.
The Act also restricts the ability of a self-represented respondent to cross-examine the aggrieved, a child
or a named person. Factors are outlined for the court to take into account when considering whether to
order that the respondent not cross-examine the witness in person. The factors are that the cross-
examination is likely to cause the witness to suffer emotional harm or distress, or that the witness will be
so intimidated that he or she will be disadvantaged as a witness.
If the witness is a child, the court must make an order that the respondent not cross-examine the witness
If a court makes an order under these provisions, the court must require the respondent to advise the
court by a stated date or time whether he or she has arranged for a lawyer to act for them, or whether he
or she has decided not to cross-examine the witness.