ACT intermediary program to start early 2020

ACT’s first intermediary program will begin early next year, supporting vulnerable people engaged in the criminal justice system to communicate the clearest possible evidence to police and the courts. The program sits within the Human Rights Commission, under the Victims of Crime Commissioner.

Head of the intermediary program, Kath Taplin said child witnesses, people with a disability and people with communication difficulties are among those who will benefit from the assistance of an intermediary.

An intermediary assesses a witness’ communication needs and recommends effective communication techniques to allow police, lawyers and courts to elicit the best evidence from the witness.  

Intermediaries are trained officers of the court with a duty to impartially advise on the communication of evidence by vulnerable witnesses.

“The role of the intermediary is to make it as easy as possible for vulnerable victims to provide the clearest evidence they can,” Ms Taplin said.

“Criminal justice processes are often lengthy, stressful and traumatic, especially for children involved in sexual offence or homicide proceedings.

“By helping a witness to communicate their evidence clearly, they can reduce a witness’ trauma and confusion,” she said.

Intermediaries are typically speech pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists or social workers who have received additional training and accreditation as intermediaries. 

Intermediary schemes are working well in NSW and Victoria, and have been operating successfully in England and Wales for 10 years.