In most circumstances, your Witness Assistance Officer will assess your requests for Vulnerable Witness Provisions (VWPs).
They can take you on a court familiarisation tour before the trial so you can understand what you are likely to experience.
Your Witness Assistance Officer will then notify the legal staff from the ODPP who will apply for the VWPs on your behalf.
VWP submissions and timeframes
When applying, legal staff will make a submission that:
- specifies the special arrangements
- the reasons for these arrangements
- the nature of your vulnerability.
ODPP legal staff need to apply for any VWPs ahead of the trial, so it’s important to speak with your Witness Assistance Officer or the DPP solicitor involved in your matter at the earliest stage possible.
In some situations you can make a late request, but these are not guaranteed.
If you change your mind, it’s important to advise your WAO or the DPP solicitor as soon as possible.
Approvals or refusals
A Judge in the District or Supreme Court is responsible for approving the VWPs. They have the ultimate power to grant or refuse any special provisions.
VWPs can also be challenged by the accused – but this will take place before you need to give evidence.
The DPP staff associated with your matter will tell you which VWPs have been approved or refused by the court.
If the provisions are approved, during the trial the Judge has an obligation to explain this to the jury.
The jury will be directed by the Court to treat the evidence in the same way as any other evidence and can’t let it affect their judgement of the accused.