Complaint

The introduction of the Evidence Act 1995 meant that this evidence could be admitted as going to proof of the act complained of, although only when the evidence was “fresh in the mind” of the complainant.

Complaint evidence is typically defined as being evidenced that a “complainant" spoke to a third party about the offence that complainant claims was committed against them.

Under the common law, this complaint evidence was admitted not as evidence of the truth of what was said but as evidence going to the credit of the complainant as a witness. The introduction of the Evidence Act 1995 meant that this evidence could be admitted as going to proof of the act complained of, although only when the evidence was “fresh in the mind” of the complainant.

The decision in Graham v R [1998] HCA 61 had the consequence that the evidence had to be “fresh” in the sense of the complaint being only shortly after the alleged incident. The introduction of S66(2A) meant that the court could consider the “nature of the event concerned”, with the consequence that complaints about traumatic or significant events could still be considered to be “fresh in the mind” of complainants many months or even years after the alleged incidents.

BD

Regina v Bd Matter No 60577/96 [1997] NSWSC 273

I am satisfied that the evidence of "complaint" in the present case was relevant. It would not, in my view, usually be appropriate to exclude evidence of "complaint" pursuant to s66 in the exercise of any discretion. Such evidence is of substantial importance in sexual assault cases.”