The Child 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 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 in criminal cases.
The Child 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 Witness Service is located separately to the court building where the case will be heard. The facility is child and youth friendly and has remote witness rooms where children and young people can give their evidence by close-circuit television.
Metropolitan and regional areas
The Child 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 Witness Service team of qualified social workers, psychologists and practitioners can::
- support child witnesses and their families throughout the criminal proceedings
- familiarise child witnesses with the court processes, 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 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 Witness Service to address initial worries and to provide timely information and support.
Contacting the Child Witness Service
Anyone can contact the Child Witness Service to refer a child or young person. This includes police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, other professionals and families.
Online guide to being a witness
“I am a witness” is an interactive guide to the child witness process. It has been developed to assist young witnesses who may not be able to have early face to face contact with a child witness officer.
A child witness officer can take you through the site over the phone and explain how to use it. Contact the Child Witness Service via email ChildWitnessService@justice.vic.gov.au or call 1300 790 540 during business hours to speak with a child witness officer.
Launch "I am a witness" .