The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service

In 2022, the NSW Government committed funding to establish the WDVCAS Hearing Support pilot in half of all NSW local courts.

In partnership with Domestic Violence NSW.

It’s 1100 hundred hours on the frontlines of domestic violence and we are in the country town of Dubbo, 390km from Sydney. Today we are following frontline worker Erin, Hearing Support Worker, with the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS).

Through WDVCAS, victim-survivors are supported as they navigate the legal system by women like Erin, who act as personal advocates providing information and support. As a Hearing Support Worker, Erin helps women through their entire court journey – providing consistency in a complex system. She is passionate and determined to support victim-survivors to recognise their power. This role also means Erin is frequently moving between her office and Dubbo Local Court.  

As we drive towards court, Erin observes that “A good day for me is when a woman leaves feeling empowered, regardless of the outcome”. “It’s really not easy to come to court…so when a [victim-survivor] turns up and gets through it and leaves feeling like they’ve achieved the impossible; I count that as a good day.” 

In 2022, the NSW Government committed funding to establish the WDVCAS Hearing Support pilot in half of all NSW local courts. Before the pilot, women who have experienced domestic and family violence had to attend court and give evidence on the witness stand without anyone to support them, answer their questions or help them know what to expect. The pilot's success saw a funding boost in April 2023 and Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) has called on the NSW Government to ensure funding continues. 

While the evaluation of the pilot is yet to be published, WDVCAS workers have reported improvements in court outcomes and in how victim-survivors feel after the hearing.  

Erin’s warmth is a welcome contrast to the stern exterior of the Dubbo Courthouse. In fact, listening to her candidly speak about the incredible strength of the people she supports – and acknowledging the fear that can be associated with going to court – is truly inspiring.  

“One thing that I want victim-survivors to know is that they can do hard things, they are going to get through it and there is an army of women behind them 100% of the way,” Erin asserts.  

Erin is the 11th frontline worker DVNSW has featured this May as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The 24 Hours on the Frontlines campaign uses a series of videos to showcase the pervasiveness of domestic violence in the community and the strength of the sector working tirelessly to stop it. Check out the rest of the campaign on Domestic Violence NSW’s Instagram, Facebook or Tiktok.

If you want to join the fight against domestic violence, you can read, sign and share their pledge