Supporting children and vulnerable witnesses in justice system

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice,

The Tasmanian Government is committed to protecting and supporting our most vulnerable.

As the Attorney-General I am pleased to announce that a landmark pilot scheme to ensure that children and vulnerable witnesses are supported to effectively participate in the Tasmanian criminal justice system is commencing today, 1 March 2021.

The Pilot Intermediary Scheme will enable the use of communications experts acting as witness intermediaries by Tasmania Police and in Tasmanian courts.

Intermediaries will work alongside lawyers, judges and others in the criminal justice system to assist children and vulnerable adults with communication needs.

The Scheme has been established in direct response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in its Criminal Justice Report and the work of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute in its 2018 report, Facilitating Equal Access to Justice: An Intermediary/Communication Scheme for Tasmania.

Its establishment was enabled by the passing of amendments I took through the Parliament to the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001 last year.

A total of 23 qualified professionals with specialist skills in communication from across the State have now completed their training to become intermediaries after responding to an invitation for expressions of interest. I thank them all for their commitment and dedication to improving access to justice for vulnerable Tasmanians.

The introduction of the pilot scheme is a further demonstration of our Government’s strong commitment to ensuring all Tasmanians have access to justice, and to ensure they are provided with key supports at what can be an incredibly stressful time.

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