It can be hard to know what to say or do for young victims of crime, especially as you are also likely to be distressed about what has happened. It’s important to remember you are a critical source of support for them during a difficult time, and the following advice will help you in your role.
- A child victim of crime is anyone under 18 years of age.
- A young person is someone aged 18–25.
- Children and young people are individuals with individual needs.
- Some children want to know a lot about the prosecution process while others don’t.
- Some children need, or benefit from, professional support such as counselling, while others may not.
- Some will change their mind about how much information and support they want during the prosecution process.
- Children’s support needs may change over the course of the prosecution process. Recognising and responding to your child’s needs as they arise can help them to cope.
- Good communication between you and your child is important, but it’s very normal for some to feel embarrassed or reluctant to discuss anything with you, particularly if the allegations involve sexual offences.
- Anyone who is a potential witness in the court case should not discuss their evidence with others who may also be witnesses.
As a carer or support person, you are often in the best position to identify the information and support your child needs as the prosecution process unfolds. You are also in a good position to make sure their needs are met.
Where do I get advice to help my child?
The CDPP Witness Assistance Service (WAS) will help you and your child throughout the prosecution process.
Our WAS staff are professionally-qualified with social work backgrounds. They provide information and support to child victims of crime, as well as their carers and support people, during the prosecution process.
How do I contact the WAS?
WAS staff are located in the CDPP offices in Sydney (02 9321 1100) and Melbourne (03 9605 4333). However, the WAS is a national resource and provides assistance to witnesses and victims in whichever state or territory you live. When you phone, tell reception you’d like to speak to someone from the Witness Assistance Service.
- The CDPP WAS staff are available to talk to children and young people to help them understand and cope with the prosecution process. WAS staff also help children and young people prepare for giving evidence in court if they need to appear as a witness.
- As a carer or support person of a child victim or witness, it’s important that you look after yourself, and access information and support services if you need them.
Legal obligations to refer child victims
CDPP prosecutors are required to refer all child victims of the crime they are prosecuting to the Witness Assistance Service.
Once a child is referred, they will be assigned a witness assistance officer, who will get in touch with you and/or the child you are supporting.
The officer will be a consistent point of contact throughout the prosecution process. They will give you information and support to meet your individual needs.
- The CDPP WAS Referral Guidelines have more information about the referral process and how the WAS operates.
In addition to your witness assistance officer, you can also contact the prosecutor and police officer involved for information.
- To get in touch with the prosecutor, call your witness assistance officer or the CDPP office in your state or territory. Make sure you know the name of the accused, as this will help us to identify the correct person you need to speak to.
- To get in touch with the police officer call your state or territory police headquarters. Usually you will have met the officer, as they will have been involved in the investigation. If you know their name it will be easier to identify who you are looking for.
Information about how we can help is set out in our Victims of Crime Policy.
It also says that:
If you ask to be kept informed about where your case is up to, we will do this as quickly as possible. (Some people prefer not to know, so make sure you ask your prosecutor if you want to be kept up to date.)
- Your views will be taken into account when it comes to prosecution options.
- If your case involves child sexual abuse, and the CDPP decides not to prosecute, or stops the prosecution against a defendant, you may be entitled to a right of review.
To ensure we can keep you and the child you are supporting informed about what’s happening with the case, please let us know as soon as possible if your contact details change.
- WAS staff are located in the CDPP offices in Sydney (02 9321 1100) and Melbourne (03 9605 4333). However, the WAS is a national resource and provides assistance to witnesses and victims in whichever state or territory you live. When you phone, tell reception you’d like to speak to someone from the Witness Assistance Service.