Communication assistance for vulnerable adult defendants during criminal trials
Dr Anita Mackay1, Ms Jacqueline Giuffrida
1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia
There has been a lot of recent legislative reform around Australia to provide intermediary/communication assistance to vulnerable witnesses during criminal trials, such that assistance is available in every State and Territory except the Northern Territory (Tasmania and Queensland introduced assistance most recently (in March and July 2021, respectively)). The ACT and South Australia make provision for assistance to be provided to vulnerable adult defendants. This paper argues that assistance should be extended to defendants in all States and Territories due to the communication barriers that many defendants face when participating in their own criminal defence. In addition to the ACT and South Australia there are also several international precedents for such reform in countries with similar legal systems, including the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and New Zealand.
Dr Anita Mackay is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe Law School. Dr Mackay’s research interests include legal protections for vulnerable and marginalised members of the community, including during criminal trials, during inquiry processes and in prisons and other closed environments.