What is your job as a witness?
As a witness you are required to tell the court about what happened. You will have already provided a statement to the Police. This statement is not provided to the court and you will be required to answer questions to tell them what happened. This is called giving evidence.
You will be asked to stay outside the courtroom until you are called to give your evidence. It can take a few minutes to several hours to give evidence. This depends on the circumstances of the incident and the information you have to provide.
When giving evidence
- Listen carefully to the questions
- Speak loudly, speak clearly and speak slowly
- Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to a question, if you really don’t know the answer
- If you don’t understand a question just say so or ask for it to be repeated
- If you can’t remember the answer, just say that you can’t remember
- Only answer what you are asked
- If you need some time to think about your answer then say that you need more time
- Try not to get angry with the Defence Lawyer if you think they are being aggressive or rude to you
- Take a deep breath and try to stay calm
- If you don’t agree with what is being asked it is OK to say so
Some questions may be upsetting or embarrassing. If you become upset, pause and take a drink of water, take some deep breaths and try to relax. If you need a break for a few minutes just ask the Magistrate.
Remote Witness Room
Most witnesses will give their evidence in the courtroom. In some circumstances you may be able to give your evidence in the remote witness from. Talk to Police Prosecutions or your Court Support Officer if you have any concerns about giving your evidence in the courtroom
The Court Support Officer has a room available where you can remain while waiting for your time to give evidence. This room is referred to as the Safe Room. Ask your Court Support Officer if you wish to use this room when you go to court.
After you have given your evidence
Giving evidence is often difficult and you may need some help after you leave court. Here are some suggestions for you to think about:
- Plan to do something special after court has finished. Meet a friend for a coffee or a chat, go for a walk or do another activity you enjoy. Talk to someone close to you about how you are feeling. Be really honest with them.
- Seek assistance from a counselling service such as the Family Violence Counselling and Support Service (phone 1800 608 122) or Victims of Crime Service (phone 1300 300 238) or talk to your counsellor or doctor.
- Don’t isolate yourself, you will need your friends.
- Don’t ignore any health issues, seek help from your doctor.
- Eat well and regularly
- Acknowledge that the effect of the crime and court process was really hard and give yourself the space and time to move forward and decide what you need to do next.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your Court Support Officer if they can assist you in any way.