ACT strengthens criminal justice system with clearer disclosure laws and new protections for victim-survivors 


The ACT Government has announced significant reforms designed to make the Territory’s criminal justice system fairer and more transparent.

The Crimes (Disclosure) Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 will:

  • put clearer rules in place for how evidence must be disclosed by the prosecution in criminal proceedings; and
  • give victim-survivors a greater voice in court, with new rules allowing persons to be heard by the Court in matters where protected confidences, such as counselling records, about sexual assault or family violence may be used.

In relation to the prosecution’s disclosure obligations, the Bill provides enhanced transparency, with clearer rules on what evidence must be disclosed, and clear timeframes for compliance. This is to support fairness for defendants and swift process.  The Bill also makes clear the Court’s discretion to make orders if the prosecution fails to meet their disclosure obligations.

In relation to protected confidences, the Bill has a victim-centred focus. Victim-survivors of sexual assault and family violence will be given standing before the court, meaning they can directly inform the court about the potential impact of using their confidential information.

“These reforms strike a careful balance between the rights of defendants and the needs of victims," said Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.

“By codifying disclosure rules, we are creating certainty and transparency for all those involved in criminal proceedings in the ACT. We are ensuring the proper administration of justice.

“At the same time, the standing amendments support victim-survivors to have their voices heard. This strengthens the integrity of our justice system.”

By codifying the prosecution’s disclosure obligations, the Bill directly responds to Recommendation 8 from the Board of Inquiry into the Criminal Justice System.

The reform in the Bill that relates to standing is complemented by the establishment of the ACT’s first dedicated legal service for victim-survivors of sexual assault. This is being delivered through a collaborative partnership between Women’s Legal Centre and Victim Support ACT’ because the Sexual Assault Legal Service has been operational for some time.

Consultation with stakeholders including ACT Courts, ACT Policing, Office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, the legal community and victim support services, informed the development of the Bill.