FIVE Hunter courts will be upgraded to allow vulnerable witnesses, including domestic abuse victims, to give their best evidence in court.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said Belmont, Cessnock, Newcastle, Maitland and Toronto would benefit from the $9 million COVID-19 Commonwealth stimulus funding for safe room and remote witness room upgrades.
At Belmont the money will prove for a new remote witness room, audio-visual equipment, air conditioning and secure access doors.
Newcastle courthouse will get upgrades to its existing safe rooms and remote witness rooms, new furniture and secure access, with the money due to add to existing settings at Cessnock and Maitland as well.
Toronto's existing rooms will also be upgraded, as well as acoustic treatment for the walls.
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"The upgrades to our local courthouses will help vulnerable people feel safer when coming to court and give witnesses a better private and secure area to prepare for court and to give their best evidence," Mr Martin said.
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said witnesses have commonly been through serious trauma and coming to court can be very stressful.
"This is particularly true for victim-survivors of domestic, family, and sexual violence," Mr Speakman said.
Self-represented defendants will later this year be banned from personally cross-examining complainants in domestic violence criminal proceedings under new laws passed last year.
Those laws also give complainants an entitlement to give evidence remotely and in a closed court.
Start dates for each court are yet to be confirmed, but the state government said it expects the projects to be complete by the end of the year.
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