The Child and Youth Witness Service is a state-wide specialist program that offers support and preparation for children and young people who may be required to give evidence at court.
Appearing in court can be confusing and cause anxiety for children and young people. The support provided to them and their families from the Child and Youth Witness Service can assist them through this experience to help reduce the trauma and stress experienced by being a witness.
In Victoria, there are special arrangements to help protect children and young people who need to give evidence in criminal cases.
The Child and Youth Witness Service is available to children and young people who may have to give evidence in cases that involve a violent crime. These cases may be heard in the Magistrates', Children's, County or Supreme Courts. You can find out more about the different types of courts in Victoria.
The Child and Youth Witness Service is located separately to the court building where the case will be heard.
Our facility is child and youth friendly and has remote witness rooms where children and young people can give their evidence via audio visual link. It was designed in consultation with community groups to help us create somewhere inclusive, accessible and culturally safe. When designing the facility, consideration was given to how it could support an improved experience for witnesses, staff and visitors.
The Child and Youth Witness Service shares this space with the Intermediary Program.
Metropolitan and regional areas
The Child and Youth Witness Service is also available throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria to support witnesses giving evidence from remote witness rooms at local court locations.
The Child and Youth Witness Service team of qualified social workers, psychologists and practitioners can:
- support children, young people and their families throughout the criminal proceedings
- familiarise children and young people with the court process, remote witness rooms and court personnel
- liaise with police and the prosecution teams, attend meetings and provide case updates
- prepare children and young people for the role of being a witness and support them when they give evidence
- provide debriefing and make referrals to community agencies
- help children, young people, and their families to complete Victim Impact Statements and attend plea or sentence hearings.
It is important that a child or young person is referred to the Child and Youth Witness Service as early as possible after charges have been laid. It does not matter if a decision has not yet been made about the child or young person needing to give evidence. An early referral provides an opportunity for the Child and Youth Witness Service to address initial worries and to provide timely information and support.
Contacting the Child and Youth Witness Service
Anyone can contact the Child and Youth Witness Service to refer a child or young person. This includes police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, other professionals and families.
The Department of Justice and Community Safety is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. We seek to prevent harm of any kind impacting children and young people and have zero tolerance for racism, child abuse and inequality.
Children and young people's rights, relationships, identity and culture must be recognised and respected, their voices heard, and their concerns acted upon.
We aim to foster a culturally safe, child safe and child friendly environment for all children and young people we have contact with, deliver services to, or who are impacted by our work.
Diversity, inclusion and social justice
We value diversity, inclusion and social justice. We are committed to treating people of all cultures, ethnicities, gender identities, bodily diversities, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, and religions with dignity and respect.