Throughout the course of employment an employee may be required to provide, or may be requested to witness, a statutory declaration or an affidavit.
A statutory declaration is a written statement that a person signs and declares to be true and correct before an authorised witness. By signing it, the person agrees that the information in it is true, and the person can be charged with perjury if the information is false.
Statutory declarations do not need to be in a prescribed form. However, under the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic), a statutory declaration must contain the following elements:
- It must contain an acknowledgement that it is true and correct and is made in the belief that a person making a false declaration is liable to the penalties of perjury; and
- It must be signed by the person making it in the presence of a person who is authorised to witness the signing of a statutory declaration.
- The name and address of the person witnessing the declaration must appear on the declaration below the witness signature.
Within the Department, statutory declarations are used for a number of purposes, such as supporting an application for personal leave.
The Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act1958 (Vic) provides that statutory declarations may only be witnessed by certain categories of persons. A list of the prescribed categories of witnesses is set out on the Department of Justice and Regulation website (see links below). For example, at present, a VPS employee at VPS Grade 2 and above may witness a statutory declaration. Within the Teaching Service, only a principal may witness a statutory declaration. There are also specific Guidelines for Authorised Witnesses on how to appropriately witness a statutory declaration (see link below).
An affidavit is a written statement that is confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it before a person authorised to receive affidavits. Affidavits are used in court proceedings and for other purposes authorised by law. There is no single prescribed form for an affidavit. Each court and tribunal has special rules about the format of an affidavit, so it is important to check the format of a required affidavit with the relevant court or tribunal.
The Guidelines for Authorised Witnesses require that a person witnessing an affidavit should:
- Examine the affidavit quickly to ensure that it is neat and legible and does not contain any blank spaces which could be filled in after swearing. A witness is not required to read the document in detail; in fact, it could be inappropriate to do so;
- Confirm the deponent understands the content of the affidavit and the nature of the oath/affirmation; and
- Ensure the deponent signs the affidavit before the oath/affirmation is taken;
- Ensure the oath or affirmation is correctly sworn or stated by the deponent;
- Endorse any exhibits that are attached to the affidavit;
- Complete a jurat at the end of the document, which sets out the place of swearing the affidavit and the date on which it was sworn.
Department employees who are required to provide an affidavit, or who are requested to witness an affidavit, should ensure it is in the appropriate format, and witnessed in accordance with the Guidelines for Authorised Witnesses, by a person within a category of prescribed witnesses, listed on the Department of Justice and Regulation website (see links below).
- Statutory Declarations (Department of Justice and Regulation - http://www.justice.vic.gov.au)
- Affidavits (Department of Justice and Regulation - http://www.justice.vic.gov.au)
back to top