• Stakeholders’ perceptions of the benefit of introducing an Australian Intermediary System for vulnerable witnesses

      Powell, Martine B.; Bowden, Phoebe; Mattison, Michelle L. A.; Deakin University; Lancaster University (SAGE, 2014-08-14)
      Vulnerable witnesses (e.g. children and adults with communication impairment) face many barriers to testifying and achieving justice when participating in the criminal justice system. To date, reforms have been implemented in Australia to address these, yet the barriers remain. Several other countries have implemented an intermediary scheme, whereby an independent third party assists vulnerable witnesses to understand the questions and processes encountered during interviews and trials, and helps witnesses to be understood. This study provides a qualitative analysis of stakeholders’ (N¼25 professionals) perceptions regarding the potential benefits of implementing an intermediary scheme in Australia. While all participants demonstrated an open-minded attitude to new reform in this area, their perspectives did not support the introduction of an intermediary scheme at this time. Stakeholders highlighted the need for improved use and effectiveness of current measures, and expressed concern about adding further complication to the system.