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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:

Useful resources

Seeking help?

We encourage anyone affected by, or with concerns about, child sexual abuse or other types of child abuse to access advice and support.

National:

  • For domestic, family, and sexual violence counselling and support, contact
    1800RESPECT:
    • Phone: 1800 737 732
  • For short-term support if you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping or staying safe, contact Lifeline:
    • Phone: 13 11 14
  • For free professional phone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide living in Australia, contact Suicide Call Back Service:
    • Phone: 1300 659 467
  • For information and support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention for everyone in Australia, contact Beyond Blue:
    • Phone: 1300 224 636
  • For information and support for anyone who is affected by complex trauma, contact
    Blue Knot Foundation:
    • Phone: 1300 657 380
  • For counselling and support for Australian men, contact MensLine Australia:
    • Phone: 1300 789 978
  • For advice for men about family violence, contact Men's Referral Service:
    • Phone: 1300 766 491
    For free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years, contact Kids Helpline:
    • Phone: 1800 55 1800

Tasmania:

Updated: 12th September 2022