Legal representation for victim-survivors: a pathway to justice?
Dr Mary Illiadis1
This paper addresses the problem of the use of sexual offence victim’ sensitive third-party evidence in criminal trials. Despite evidential rules that have sought to restrict the use of victims’ sexual history and private records in criminal trials, such evidence continues to be admitted in court to discredit victims’ character and testimony. This raises concern over the effectiveness of rape shield protections in Australia and the further harm experienced by victims. Drawing on international experiences and perspectives, this paper outlines the ways in which separate legal representation might better safeguard victims’ privacy and interests, and thus protect their sensitive third-party records. The paper also considers the potential benefits and risks of granting victims separate legal representation, and examines the ways in which it might enhance their procedural and substantive justice experiences.
Dr Mary Iliadis is a senior lecturer in criminology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University and co-convenor of the Deakin Research into Violence Against Women Hub. Mary is also the early-career researcher representative for Deakin’s Faculty of Arts and Education Research Committee and an ANZSOC member.