The Crimes Act provides a range of protections for child witnesses in proceedings for particular offences, including child sex offences and people trafficking. However, those protections are not yet available to vulnerable adult witnesses, such as victims of slavery or trafficking, or to child witnesses in other Commonwealth proceedings. The proposed amendments will change the heading of Part IAD of the Crimes Act from ‘Protection of children in proceedings for sexual offences’ to ‘Protecting vulnerable persons’. The amendments to Part IB of the Crimes Act proposed in this Bill will also allow for a verbal or signed written statement that can be presented to inform the court about the harm suffered by the victim as a result of the offence.
Anti-Slavery Australia supports the amendments concerning Part 1AD and Part IB of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and Chapter 8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). These amendments extend the existing vulnerable witness protections available to children, adult victims of slavery, slavery-like practices and human trafficking as well as special witnesses. Anti-Slavery Australia supports these amendments and the passing of the bill. Further, the creation of Victim Impact Statements, which take into account physical, psychological and emotional suffering as well as economic loss, is recommended.