Chapter 12: The Judicial Proceedings Reports Act

93 The prohibition in section 3(1)(a) of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act on the publication of indecent matter and indecent medical, surgical or physiological details in relation to any judicial proceedings should be repealed.

94 Section 3(1)(b) of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act, prohibiting the publication of details of divorce and related proceedings, should be repealed, and transitional provisions should be enacted to continue protections for proceedings which predate the Family

Law Act.

95 The Supreme Court should make rules to address requests for access to historical court files relating to divorce and other proceedings.

96 The restriction on the publication of details of directions hearings and sentence indication hearings set out in section 3(1)(c) of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act should be retained and re-enacted in the Open Courts Act, together with its attendant provisions, subject to the amendments recommended below.

97 The proposed provision should be amended to:

• remove witnesses’ addresses from the list of matters that may be published

• allow reasons for an adjournment to be published

• require notice to be placed on the courtroom doors to indicate it is a hearing to which the provision applies.

98 The proposed provision should not extend to other preliminary hearings (such as bail hearings or committal proceedings).

99 The prohibition in section 4(1A) of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act on publishing any particulars likely to lead to the identification of a person against whom a sexual offence is alleged to have been committed should be retained and re-enacted in the Open Courts Act, together with its attendant provisions, subject to the later recommendations in this report relating to consent to publication, penalties and the definition of ‘publish’.

100 The provision should be amended to clarify that the provision ceases to apply where a victim has died, with interested parties able to apply to continue the prohibition where the public interest in disclosure is outweighed by the ongoing privacy interests of the deceased or other persons.

101 Prosecution for the offence under the provision should continue to require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

102 As a consequence of the above recommendations relating to the substantive provisions of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act, the Act is no longer required and should be repealed.

103 The prohibition in what is currently section 4 of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act should be amended to provide that it is a defence to a charge under section 4(1A), including when proceedings are pending, to prove that:

• the matter was published with the consent of the victim, if the victim consents in writing and is an adult, and is not otherwise incapable of giving informed consent, or

• the court authorised the publication, on its own motion or on application.

104 This defence should not apply where the publication of the identifying particulars of a consenting victim is likely to lead to identification of a non-consenting victim.

105 The prohibition in what is currently section 4 of the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act should be amended to provide that where the victim is a child, the court has the power to authorise publication of identifying particulars on application or on its own motion.

106 There should not be a new temporary, automatic reporting restriction where an accused has been charged with a sexual or family violence offence. However, where charges have been filed in relation to sexual or family violence offences there should be a requirement, reflected in appropriate legislation, that at the first court mention of the matter the court inquire into the victim’s position on suppression orders.

107 Victoria Police should be responsible for providing victims and child witnesses with initial information about the operation of automatic publication restrictions and referral to advice and support services to assist with suppression orders and engagement with the media.

108 As recommended by the Commission in the report on the Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process, a service for victims should be funded to provide legal advice and assistance in relation to:

• substantive legal entitlements connected with the criminal trial process

• asserting a human right, or protecting vulnerable individuals, in exceptional circumstances.

Voiced by Amazon Polly