After a successful pilot program, the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program has received $28 million to continue to support children and young people involved in sexual abuse cases.
The program provides victims and child witnesses for the prosecution with specialist intermediaries, sometimes known as ‘Children’s Champions’. It also allows them to pre-record their evidence before the trial.
Specialist witness intermediaries has assisted young people to answer questions from police and lawyers, allowing them to provide their best evidence, without affecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
The pilot program in Sydney and Newcastle District Courts received strong support from participants. It reduced stress levels for children and resulted in better quality evidence from child witnesses.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW is leading the country with this important initiative.
“We know that going to court to give evidence can be a tough experience for children and young people, so I am extremely proud that the NSW Government is investing this funding to make the experience easier,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the program is proving vital to ensuring children understand and are understood during the court process.
“Going to court can be stressful and traumatic for anyone, let alone young people. This program ensures that some of the most vulnerable people who come in contact with the justice system get the support they need,” Mr Speakman said.
The program is part of the $127 million package of reforms to deliver the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.