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, explaining 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 started 1 July 2018.