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Victorian intermediaries pilot program

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.

Applications to be an intermediary are now open

The department has two types of intermediary roles available:

  • 2 x Allied Health level 4 roles within the department
  • 50 x contracted intermediary roles.

To apply for an intermediary role within the department please go to the Careers Victoria website(external link).

To apply for one of the 50 contracted roles please submit your completed application form (below) and resume to

Individuals are welcome to apply for both department and contracted roles, however this will require the submission of two separate applications.

Applications close at 5pm on 13 March 2018.

Interviews will be conducted through March and April and appointments will be confirmed in April, subject to the successful completion of the training. 

Training is scheduled in May and June (please note that the successful completion of training is mandatory and attendees will not be reimbursed for their time). 

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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
  • Fawkner
  • Frankston
  • Geelong.


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

About the intermediaries program

The program aims to:

  • increase access to justice for vulnerable witnesses
  • produce the best quality evidence
  • decrease the trauma experienced by vulnerable people giving evidence. 

In 2016, the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) released the report The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process(external link), which contained 51 recommendations that aim to minimise trauma to victims caused by the criminal justice system.

One of its recommendations (recommendation 30) was the establishment of a scheme for the appointment of professional intermediaries, modelled on the Witness Intermediary Scheme in England and Wales.

In August 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Criminal Justice report(external link) also recommended the establishment of an intermediary scheme similar to the Registered Intermediary Scheme in England and Wales, available to any witness with a communication difficulty in a child sexual abuse matter.

Eligible witnesses for the intermediary pilot include:

  • child complainants and adult complainants with a cognitive impairment in matters of a sexual offence
  • child witnesses and adult witnesses with a cognitive impairment in homicide matters.

The Criminal Procedure Act 2009’s definition of "cognitive impairment" includes impairment because of mental illness, intellectual disability, dementia or brain injury.

Matching process 

The Intermediary Team within the department will manage the intermediary pilot and matching service.

When a complainant or witness wishes to make a report to police (and that complainant or witness falls within the scope of the pilot) the police will contact the Intermediary Matching Service. Some interviews with police will be booked in, but a lot of interviews will be scheduled at short notice.

The matching service will strive to match the specific needs of the witness to the identified competency of the intermediary.

Intermediary assessment at police interview 

When a match has been identified and availability confirmed, the intermediary will attend at the Visual and Audio Recorded Evidence (VARE).

The intermediary will undertake an assessment to determine the witness’s communication requirements. The intermediary will then provide the police interviewer with specialist preliminary advice and practical strategies to communicate to elicit complete and accurate evidence from the witness.

Ground Rules Hearing

After any charges are laid and the case reaches the court, the intermediary will undertake a further assessment and produce a report for the court to consider at a Ground Rules Hearing.

Ground Rules Hearings are required in all hearings and trials that involve an intermediary. During a Ground Rules Hearing the judge or magistrate makes directions for the fair treatment and participation of vulnerable witnesses.

The report prepared by an intermediary, which will provide practical strategies and make recommendations about how to best communicate with witness, will be discussed by the parties.

The judge will determine what the ground rules are and they should be recorded in open court. The intermediary will follow the ground rules.

The intermediary will be present with the witness during the court hearing or trial, to assist with communication.

What is outside the scope of the intermediary’s role?

The intermediary is not a:

  • support person
  • expert witness
  • counsellor
  • legal advisor
  • interpreter
  • advocate.

An intermediary should not:

  • express an opinion on the truth or reliability of anything the witness has said/is to present
  • enter into discussions
  • give advice.


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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