Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


SA Courts System Delays

In reply to the Hon. F. PANGALLO ().7 March 2023).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question on the important issue of the support available to victims of crime as their matter progresses through the criminal justice system, particularly in relation to matters in which there is a delay while the matter awaits trial. Some of the support services available are provided by the South Australia Police, which is obviously not within my portfolio. I will address some of those services in this response though, for the sake of completeness.

While there is always some time between the commencement of criminal proceedings and a trial, I am informed that the delays are often most significant in the higher courts, where the issues are generally more complex and the trial duration is longer. Those trials typically involve major indictable charges, which are prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That office has a well-established witness assistance team, which comprises a group of highly skilled specialists who provide trauma-informed support for victims. This team liaises with the solicitors and prosecutors handling the case, to ensure that they have the most current information about the proceedings, to pass onto the victims. Their role is also to help victims (and those who support them) to understand the legal system and what to expect in terms of timeframes. They are also able to refer victims to external support service providers who can provide counselling and other services to those victims.

The South Australia Police includes victim contact officers, who provide support, advice and information to victims of crime. A police officer responsible for a particular investigation is also able to provide information to victims regarding their report, if the victim has told police at the time of making their report of the fact that they want to be kept informed about the case.

The Commissioner for Victims' Rights produces a number of resources to assist victims of crime, which are freely available on their website. One of those resources is a link to the South Australia Police website, where victims can enter a police report number and report date to see the status of their crime report.

The Victims Support Service facilitates access to support at court for victims and vulnerable witnesses who need to give evidence before courts once their matter gets to trial, through the Court Companion Program.