Victims will no longer have to present evidence for a second time when court cases resurface on appeal after the passing of new legislation.
The Justice Legislation Amendment (Criminal Appeals) Bill abolishes 'de novo' appeals from the Magistrates Court, which means witnesses - including victims - won't have to give another statement during an appeal.
The passing of the legislation is too little, too late for Hope (not her real name as she has requested to remain anonymous), a Ballarat woman who alleged she was sexually abused at the age of 13.
After a guilty verdict was handed down in the Magistrates Court, the decision was appealed two days later, forcing Hope to re-submit all her evidence, this time without the use of a witness protection screen.
Hope told The Courier about how it felt to have to take the stand again, this time without the screen.
The stress and anxiety I felt at trying to answer questions as I was cross-examined was too much.Hope
"I was not only put in the position of recalling the alleged abuse in minute detail, but I had to look at the alleged perpetrator during the process."
The guilty verdict was ultimately overturned. The impact the court case had on her mental health was significant.
Between the guilty verdict and the result of the appeal, which was covered extensively in the media, Hope tried to end her life three times.
Suffering from complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), Hope added "the anxiety, stress and mental anguish of the court process is incredibly challenging to a victim, to have to go through such a process twice is incredibly unfair."
Hope believes now that 'de novo' appeals are a thing of the past, witnesses and abuse victims will come away as the big winners.
I believe the 'de novo' appeal being abolished with save a lot of re trauma for a victim.Hope
She added has this legislation been in place at the time of her case, the appeals may not have been successful.
"Had the De Novo appeal been abolished then and the testimony been used from the Magistrates Court, where a witness protection screen had been granted, I believes the second verdict quite possibly could have been a very different outcome."
State Leader of Derryn Hinch's Justice Party, Stuart Grimley, said the new legislation will make a significant impact within Western Victorian courts.
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Parts of Western Victoria are unfortunately renowned for historic abuse, particularly sexual abuse," he said in a statement.
"If this Bill helps only one person not have to relive their traumatic story again and again in the courts, then it is worth supporting.
"There is very little reason why victims should ever need to take the stand, be cross-examined and tell of their abuse to a court more than once."
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