Intermediaries are skilled communication specialists who assist vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence. Their role is to help communication with the witness and to assist the witness to give evidence to police and in court. Intermediaries are neutral and are officers of the court.
The general function of an intermediary is to:
- assess the witness's communication style and specific communication assistance required
- describe the communication needs of the witness to the investigating police officer, legal practitioners and judicial officers to enable the individual to participate in the court process. This will include providing recommendations on how to best communicate with the witness, explain concepts that the individual has difficulty understanding and/or making recommendations to the person questioning the witness and the Judicial Officer on how to pose a question to get the most reliable evidence
- facilitate communication between the individual and other parties to prevent or overcome a communication breakdown
- write court reports on the individual's communication needs and provide practical strategies for managing these needs.
The Victorian Government's intermediaries pilot program will start 1 July 2018.
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Qualifications and competencies needed to be an intermediary
Only professionals with the appropriate registration will be considered as intermediaries.
- Psychologists and occupational therapists who have full unrestricted registration with Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency.
- Social workers who are a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.
- Speech pathologists who are a member of Speech Pathology Australia with a practising membership grade.
The program will also consider people with post-qualification experience, expertise and skills in a range of areas, including but not limited to:
- complex communication needs
- physical disabilities
- autism spectrum
- learning difficulties
- intellectual disabilities
- mental health diagnosis
- children and young people
- child development
- complex trauma
- speech and language difficulties
- acquired brain injury.
Hours of work
A pool of 50 intermediaries will be appointed by the Secretary, Department of Justice and Regulation, to an intermediary panel and contracted as needed.
Intermediaries will be required to be available for a minimum of 12 days per year and will be asked to nominate regular times of availability.
It is difficult to estimate the workload as contracted intermediaries will be matched to a witness based on their availability, the witness needs and the location of the interview. It is estimated that 600 police interviews will occur over the twelve month pilot in addition to over 100 court matters.
The court sites involved in the intermediaries pilot program are:
- Melbourne Children's Court
- Melbourne Magistrates' Court
- Melbourne County Court
- Melbourne Supreme Court.
Visual and audio recorded evidence (VARE) interviews conducted by the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team within Victoria Police will have access to an intermediary in four pilot sites:
- Box Hill
Contracted intermediaries will be paid an hourly rate of $165 for attendance at police interview or court.
A pre-court assessment, including the preparation of a court report, will be paid at a flat rate of $550.
Registered intermediaries will need to successfully complete five (non-consecutive) days of training designed to provide an understanding of the criminal justice system and the role of an intermediary.
Contracted intermediaries will also receive ongoing support and opportunities for debriefing.
Contracted intermediaries will be required to complete 14 hours of relevant continuous professional development.
Introducing the Intermediary pilot program
|Author:||Department of Justice and Regulation|
|Publisher:||Department of Justice and Regulation|
|Date of Publication:||2018|
|Copyright:||State of Victoria, 2018.|
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