Progressing important Commission of Inquiry recommendations

Guy Barnett, Attorney General

The Tasmanian Government is committed to ensuring the safety of our children and young people, including by implementing all of the 191 recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings.

The Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Amendment Bill 2024 tabled in Parliament today is further evidence of our Government’s commitment to progressing these important reforms as soon as possible.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Guy Barnett, said that these amendments will apply in relation to proceedings that have commenced before or after the commencement of the Amending Act, meaning that as many witnesses as possible will be able to benefit from the enhanced supports the Bill provides.

“The Commission of Inquiry has been and is a highly traumatic and sensitive undertaking and we want to make certain that Tasmanians who need it are as supported as they can possibly be,” the Attorney-General said.

“There has been extensive and targeted consultation on this, and I am confident that the Bill will make a significant difference for Tasmanians.

“We are totally committed to implementing all 191 recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry and today marks another important step in doing so.”

The Bill progresses recommendation 16.11(1), to expand and clarify protective procedures, which help witnesses in the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001.

Specifically, the Bill:

  • expands eligibility for support person assistance to adult complainants in proceedings relating to child sexual abuse;
  • omits the current requirement that the accused person consents to a judge’s order that a special hearing is to occur. A special hearing is where evidence can be given and recorded before the trial to then be played during the trial so that the witness does not have to attend; and
  • specifically recognises the use of screens, one-way glass or other devices to shield an ‘affected person’ or ‘special witness’ from seeing the defendant in court, if either type of witness chooses to give evidence in court.

The Tasmanian Government is committed to delivering our 2030 Strong Plan for Tasmania’s Future, and ensuring that Tasmania’s children and young people have the supports and safety that they deserve.

/Public Release. View in full here.