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Giving evidence in personal safety matters

Information about the process of giving evidence in court for a personal safety matter.

The Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 made significant changes to the way evidence will be given to the court in non-family violence matters.

The key changes are as follows.

Rules of evidence may not apply

The court does not have to follow the rules of evidence. It may inform itself in any way it sees fit. This means, for example, that hearsay evidence is admissible.

Evidence may be given by affidavit or by sworn statement. If evidence is given by affidavit, a party may require that person to attend court to be cross-examined.

The court may also forbid indecent or scandalous questions.

Children

Children must not give evidence unless leave of the court is given. Before giving leave the court must consider potential harm to the child and the desirability of protecting children from court proceedings.

Children who are not the applicant or the respondent must have the leave of the court before being represented in proceedings. Before giving leave the court must consider potential harm to the child and the desirability of protecting children from court proceedings.

Hearings may relate to more than one application

The court may hear any number of applications for family violence intervention orders in one hearing if it thinks fit.

Applications made by guardians/police officers or parents

If an application has been made by a guardian, police officer or a parent, the affected person must be heard separately if they object to the application.

Conduct of proceedings

The court may close the proceeding to the public and it is an offence to contravene the closed court order.
The court may direct legal practitioners to remain seated. The court must do this if the witness is a child unless it is inappropriate to do so in the circumstances.

Cross examination of a witness

Unlike the situation in family violence hearings there is nothing in the Act to stop a respondent from cross examining an applicant.

More information

Legislation

Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic)

  • s. 45—hearing may relate to more than one application
  • s. 46—circumstances where affected person to be heard separately
  • s. 47—evidence
  • s. 48—evidence may be given by affidavit or sworn statement
  • s. 49—evidence given by children
  • s. 51—court may close proceeding to public

See Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Evidence Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 13—circumstances were a person lacks capacyto give evidence
  • s. 30—allows a witness to give evidence throgh an interpreter
  • s. 31—provides for evidence that is given by a person who is deaf or cannot speak
  • s. 41—gives court the power to disallow evidence that is improper
  • Part 3.10—provides for the application of privileges

See Evidence Act 2008 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic)

  • Part 1 Division 8—allows for confidentiality in mediation cases that are conducted under that division
  • Part ll Division 2A allows for confidential communications in sexual offence cases

See Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Updated