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Intermediaries wanted to assist vulnerable witnesses

Applications are sought from Queensland’s allied health professionals to become intermediaries – to facilitate communication between a vulnerable witness and police and/or a vulnerable witness and courts.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General Director-General David Mackie said yesterday that the two-year Queensland Intermediary Scheme pilot program would engage intermediaries to assist witnesses in child sexual offence investigations and prosecutions to give their best evidence.

“Intermediaries can be engaged from police investigation through to court hearing,” Mr Mackie said. “The program is being implemented by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General in response to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“The Queensland Intermediary Scheme will apply to any child sexual offence prosecution witness who is under 16 or who is a person with an impairment of the mind, or has difficulty communicating.

“An intermediary will assess a vulnerable witness’s communication abilities and provide practical strategies on how to best communicate with the witness including how to pose a question to get the most reliable evidence.”

Initially the Queensland Intermediary Scheme program will be piloted in two locations – Brisbane and Cairns – from July 2021.

Mr Mackie said individuals with qualifications in speech pathology, psychology, occupational therapy or social work were invited to apply for membership of the prequalified panel.

“Mandatory training will be provided to successful applicants, to ensure panel members have the necessary skills to operate effectively in the criminal justice system,” he said.

Panel applications opened on 27 November 2020 through QTenders and close on 14 January 2021.

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