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Praise for Children's Champions scheme

Date published: Tuesday 3 October 2017

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Attorney General Mark Speakman has welcomed an independent evaluation showing strong support for a project to reduce stress for child sexual assault victims giving evidence in court.

The three-year Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot began in Sydney and Newcastle in March 2016, enabling victims and other child witnesses for the prosecution to pre-record evidence and the appointment of Children’s Champions to offer support.

"Children's Champions are specialist intermediaries who help young witnesses to understand questions asked by police or lawyers and get their answers across effectively," Mr Speakman said. 

"Pre-recording evidence also spares young complainants the trauma of facing their alleged attacker in court."

Researchers from the Universities of Sydney and NSW have evaluated the introduction of the pilot, based on its first year of operation.

Key findings include:

  • Stakeholders unanimously support the pilot’s goals and believe it has been implemented as intended;
  • Children’s Champions are highly skilled and valued and have helped child sexual assault complainants to give evidence; and
  • The pilot has been well managed and has improved over time.

In the first 12 months, more than 760 complainants and witnesses participated, with most receiving assistance from Children’s Champions during police interviews and testimony for the court. Almost 60 court evidence hearings were pre-recorded.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has recommended witness intermediaries and the pre-recording of complainants’ evidence be introduced across Australia. This pilot shows NSW is leading the way in efforts to ensure children who have suffered abuse or witnessed traumatic events find appropriate support.

To view the evaluation of the introduction of the pilot, visit the Victims Services and Support website.