• Document
    SKILLS

    Victims of Crime in the Courtroom: A Guide for Judicial Officers

    This guide details considerations for judicial officers and court staff to limit re-traumatisation of victims and witnesses, and enhance opportunities for post-traumatic growth, without compromising the integrity of the criminal justice system. It covers the important role that judicial officers, police, prosecution, court staff and defence counsel can play in influencing a victim’s experience of the justice system.
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Understanding the impact of trauma and counter-intuitive behaviour will help you identify and manage these issues in your court or hearing room.

  • Video
    SKILLS
    35 MINS

    Understanding trauma and counter-intuitive behaviour.

    Trauma specialist Merrin Wake discusses complex trauma, trauma-informed practice, and how to work with people who are suffering from the impacts of trauma.
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Find out more about the dynamics of family violence and courtcraft techniques on our Family violence page.

Vulnerable victims and witnesses, particularly children and people with a disability, face complex issues in court proceedings.

The Intermediary Program, which commenced in 2018, introduced intermediaries and ground rules hearings in matters involving vulnerable victims. The scheme is set out in pt 8.2A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009. 

The Multi-jurisdictional court guide for the intermediary pilot program provides practical information on working with intermediaries and conducting a ground rules hearing, including directions.

  • Document
    LAW

    Case Note: Ward (a Pseudonym) v The Queen (2017) 54 VR 68

    This case note summarises key parts of the decision in Ward v The Queen, which contains a thorough discussion of the principles that apply to cross-examining children, and provides guidance for practitioners and judicial officers on the appropriate limits on such cross-examination.
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Part 8.2A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 governs the use of ground rules hearings and intermediaries.

  • Video
    SKILLS
    34 MINS

    How to conduct a ground rules hearing.

    Watch how to conduct a ground rules hearing with and without an intermediary. The video includes details of the judicial officer’s directions regarding questioning.
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  • Document
    SKILLS

    Intermediary Assessment Report and Recommendations in respect of Carrie Thomas

    This sample intermediary assessment report illustrates the type of important information that might be included about a witness’s communication needs.
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Questioning

For an outline of overarching principles for questioning witnesses, as well as discussion of issues such as developmental milestones, and sample scripts to use, refer to Child Witnesses: Testing Competency and Questioning – A Practical Guide.

  • Video
    SKILLS
    22 MINS

    Managing the questioning of vulnerable witnesses

    This video demonstrates how judicial officers can manage the questioning of vulnerable witnesses, both when an intermediary is present and when an intermediary is not present.
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The following resources provide information on understanding the communication needs of vulnerable victims and witnesses.

  • Video
    SKILLS
    57 MINS

    Identifying communication issues with vulnerable witnesses in the courtroom.

    Professor of Cognitive Psychology Pamela Snow, La Trobe University, discusses how to identify communication issues with vulnerable witnesses.
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  • Video
    SKILLS
    1 HR 6 MINS

    Communication issues with vulnerable witnesses - Panel discussion

    Watch an expert judicial panel and Professor Snow discuss communication issues with vulnerable witnesses, including precautions judicial officers can take, and formulating questions for witnesses.
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The following links provide further reading which may be relevant to judges and magistrates looking for information about managing victims and witnesses: