Who is leading the change
- Court Services Victoria
The Judicial College of Victoria provide training to judicial officers in order to raise awareness and encourage consistent application of section 31 of the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic), which allows courts to make adjustments to the way people with disabilities may be questioned and give evidence.
The Judicial College of Victoria worked with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to develop a Disability Bench Book. Bench books are used as reference and educative tools by judicial officers within the legal sector, and are important and effective mechanisms to deliver training and raise awareness on the application of legislative instruments and legal procedures.
The Judicial College of Victoria launched the Disability Access Bench Book on 1 December 2016. This resource, developed in conjunction with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, provides extensive practical tips on how judicial officers can make adjustments for people with disabilities when participating in court proceedings. This includes reference to s 31 of the Evidence Act 2008 (Vic).
The Bench Book has been widely promoted through the judiciary and the wider legal profession, and has already been cited in one Supreme Court decision (Matsoukatidou v Yarra Ranges Council  VSC 61), demonstrating the judiciary’s awareness of this new resource.
The Uniform Evidence Manual, maintained by the Judicial College of Victoria, also contains discussion of s 31 of the Evidence Act 2008. Emphasis is given on the breadth of this provision, and practical examples of what this provision authorises are provided to assist with its application.
The Judicial College of Victoria has also developed a curriculum for family violence education for all Victorian judicial officers and VCAT members. The curriculum, launched in March, 2018, includes training and/or material on the application of s 31 of the Evidence Act 2008.
This recommendation is linked with recommendations 120, 215 and 216.
Reviewed 17 May 2020