Attending court can be a daunting experience for anyone who is unfamiliar with how the legal system works, including victims of crime, people accused of crime, witnesses and families.
There are a number of organisations that provide support and assistance to people attending court:
The Court Network support service operates in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Court Network volunteers can help court users to become familiar with how the court and the legal system operate before their day in court and can provide non-legal support at the court while the trial is in progress.
Witness Assistance Service
The Witness Assistance Service supports victims of serious crime through the court process. The service is part of the Victims Strategy and Services unit of the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP).
Child Witness Service
The Child Witness Service (CWS), based in the Courts precinct, is a specialist service that provides court education and support. The service aims to reduce the trauma and stress experienced by a child witness by:
- preparing them for the role of being a witness
- familiarising them with the court process and personnel
- supporting them and their family throughout the criminal proceedings and court
- providing debriefing and referral to community agencies.
Victims of Crime Helpline
The Victims of Crime Helpline will:
- provide advice about reporting a crime
- give you information about the court process
- find other services that can assist you
- help you apply for compensation and financial assistance
Help for people with special needs
Wheelchair access to the Court is provided via the laneway gate, between the Trial Division and Court of Appeal buildings, on Lonsdale Street. This entrance is staffed between 9am and 5pm.
If you have other practical needs that the Court should be aware of, please contact the relevant registry at least one week before the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made. For example, you need to tell the Court if you:
- require a hearing loop
- require regular breaks, for example to attend to an infant or for a medical reason
- have any other special needs due to disability.