Witness Intermediary Scheme
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found witness intermediary schemes can make a significant difference in reducing the problems that children and vulnerable people may face in being heard by the criminal justice system.
What is the Witness Intermediary Scheme?
The Witness Intermediary Scheme is a statewide pilot program that introduces the use of witness intermediaries to help children and adults with communication needs better participate in the criminal justice system.
A panel of trained and qualified witness intermediaries are taking part in the pilot.
The pilot was announced in March 2021 and is expected to run for three years before being evaluated.
What is a witness intermediary?
A witness intermediary is a trained professional with specialist skills in communication.
Witness intermediaries act impartially and assist with communication between vulnerable witnesses and courts, lawyers, and police.
Witness intermediaries taking part in the pilot have professional backgrounds in areas such as psychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy and mental health nursing, as well as in working with vulnerable adults and children.
When are witness intermediaries used?
The Witness Intermediary Scheme makes witness intermediaries available to eligible witnesses in matters relating to sexual offences and homicide.
The law that made the pilot program possible — the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Amendment Act 2020 — sets out the scope and procedure for the use of witness intermediaries in Tasmanian courts.
Witness intermediaries are also available to Tasmania Police through the pilot for the purposes of interviewing witnesses during police investigations.
How can I find out more?
If you’re interested in learning more about the Witness Intermediary Scheme pilot, contact the Child Abuse Royal Commission Unit via:
- Calling 03 6165 4802.
We encourage anyone affected by, or with concerns about, child sexual abuse or other types of child abuse to access advice and support.
For domestic, family, and sexual violence counselling and support, contact 1800RESPECT:
- Phone: 1800 737 732
- Visit: www.1800respect.org.au
For short-term support if you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping or staying safe, contact Lifeline:
- Phone: 13 11 14
- Visit www.lifeline.org.au
For free professional phone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide living in Australia, contact Suicide Call Back Service:
- Phone: 1300 659 467
- Visit: www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/phone-and-online-counselling/
For information and support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention for everyone in Australia, contact Beyond Blue:
- Phone: 1300 224 636
- Visit: www.beyondblue.org.au
For information and support for anyone who is affected by complex trauma, contact Blue Knot Foundation:
- Phone: 1300 657 380
- Visit: www.blueknot.org.au
For counselling and support for Australian men, contact MensLine Australia:
- Phone: 1300 789 978
- Visit: www.mensline.org.au
For advice for men about family violence, contact Men's Referral Service:
- Phone: 1300 766 491
- Visit: www.ntv.org.au/get-help
For information about child wellbeing and safety, contact Strong Families, Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line:
- Phone: 1800 000 123
- Visit: www.strongfamiliessafekids.tas.gov.au
For free and confidential support for people who have been affected by sexual violence, contact the Sexual Assault Support Service:
- Phone: 1800 697 877
- Visit: www.sass.org.au
For sexual assault support in Northern Tasmania and North West Tasmania, contact Laurel House:
- Phone for Northern Tasmania: (03) 6334 2740
- Phone for North West Tasmania: (03) 6431 9711
For information and support for children, young people and adults affected by family violence, contact Family Violence Counselling and Support Service:
- Phone: 1800 608 122
- Visit: www.communities.tas.gov.au/children/family_violence_counselling_and_support_services
For free and confidential support for people impacted by crime, contact Victims of Crime Service:
- Phone: 1300 300 238
- Visit: www.justice.tas.gov.au/victims/services/victims-of-crime-service
For support for relationships and to live positive lives, contact Relationships Australia Tasmania:
- Phone: 1300 364 277
- Visit: www.tas.relationships.org.au