Appearing in court can be confusing and stressful for most people, particularly for young people who have been victims of or witnesses to violent crimes.
The Child Witness Service (CWS) is a specialist service that provides court education and support.
The service aims to reduce the trauma and stress experienced by a child witness by:
- preparing them for the role of being a witness
- familiarising them with the court process and personnel
- supporting them and their family throughout the criminal proceedings and court
- providing debriefing and referral to community agencies.
In Melbourne, the CWS is based in the court precinct in a purpose built facility that hosts the remote witness rooms. The centre is child and family friendly and located outside a court building that will be hearing their case against the accused person.
The service is state-wide and will support children giving evidence in the rural regions via outreach. The CWS will visit witnesses at local court locations and be available to support regional witnesses while they are giving evidence. The CWS is available to witnesses appearing in criminal proceedings that involve a violent crime in the Magistrates', Children's, County and Supreme Courts.
Referrals can be made by anyone including police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, other professionals and families by phoning 03 9603 9266 or 1300 790 540.
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 on 1300 790 540 or (03) 9603 9266 during business hours to speak with a child witness officer.