The Tasmanian Government’s Witness Intermediary Scheme Pilot began on 1 March 2021 with the commencement of the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Amendment Act 2020. The Scheme is a state-wide program that introduces the use of witness intermediaries to help ensure that children and adults with communication needs can better participate in the criminal justice system.
The Scheme makes witness intermediaries available to eligible witnesses in matters relating to sexual offences and homicide. The legislation sets out the scope and procedure for the use of witness intermediaries in Tasmanian courts. Witness intermediaries will also be available to Tasmania Police for the purposes of interviewing witnesses during police investigations.
The Witness Intermediary Scheme Pilot will operate for 3 years after which time its operation will be evaluated.
The Witness Intermediary Scheme Pilot was introduced as part of the Tasmanian Government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that witness intermediary schemes can make a significant difference in reducing the problems that children and people with disability face in being heard by the criminal justice system. The Royal Commission recommended that state and territory governments establish witness intermediary schemes.
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.
The Secretary of the Department of Justice has established a panel of qualified and trained witness intermediaries in accordance with Section 7G of the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001. Tasmania’s first cohort of witness intermediaries are professionals with experience in psychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy and mental health nursing as well as in working with vulnerable adults and children.
Child Abuse Royal Commission Response Unit
Level 3, 85-99 Collins Street, Hobart Tas 7000 | GPO Box 825, Hobart Tas 7001
The Child Abuse Royal Commission Response Unit (CARCRU) is a unit within the Tasmanian Department of Justice.
It has been set up in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.