Information for Agencies
Helping achieve better outcomes...
by assisting victims and witnesses of crime throughout their time at court.
Our role is to prepare and assist police witnesses giving evidence at criminal hearings, so more positive outcomes can be achieved for both the Prosecution and their witnesses.
What Can VWCCS Do For Agencies?
VWCCS accepts referrals from various victims of crime agencies including police, prosecutors, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), organisations supporting victims of domestic violence (male and female), social workers and the general public.
We work with clients involved in criminal hearings held under the State jurisdiction of the Local, District, Supreme, Children’s and Coroners’ Courts of New South Wales, as well as criminal matters held under the Commonwealth jurisdiction.
To refer a client to VWCCS, telephone or email us. See Contact Us for details.
What Can VWCCS Do For Victims & Witnesses?
This might be as simple as providing someone with directions on how to locate their court or where to meet their Officer In Charge. For some witnesses, it can involve a lot more.
- Explain the court process, legal terminology and the role of the Prosecution witness.
- Provide information about victims’ rights under the Charter of Victims Rights.
- Meet them at the Court and accompany them to one of the safe rooms VWCCS administers
- Liaise on behalf of the client with the Prosecutor and Police.
- Explain the serious consequences of discussing their evidence outside the Courtroom.
- Continue to provide support if the matter is adjourned and listed for another hearing date.
- Accompany them to any conferences related to the crime.
- Accompany them to the courtroom, then remain with clients if they wish to stay in Court after they have given evidence, or until the defendant has left the court.
- Assist victims with their Victim Impact Statement.
- Provide information on services that may be able to assist with free counselling, compensation and other support.
What We Don't Do
- Give legal advice.
- Discuss evidence with a witness or assist with giving evidence.
- Take notes in court.
- Speak during the court hearing, unless asked a question by the Judge or Magistrate.
- Fill in witness compensation and expense reimbursement forms.
About Our Volunteers
VWCCS has approximately 100 volunteers.
All our volunteers have:
- A NSW Working With Children Check – Volunteer Declaration
- A signed acknowledgement of VWCCS Policies and Procedures
Volunteers wishing to train as Court Support Officers (CSOs) undertake an intensive induction and training course consisting of five modules.
- The first module requires familiarisation with the court environment through a series of self-guided visits and the completion of prescribed reading.
- Module two consists of four face-to-face training days with presenters from the criminal justice community together with specialist speakers from services dealing with serious crime. Module two also includes a mock trial where a Magistrate presides over a case presented by the Prosecution and tested by the Defence.
- Module three requires each inductee to observe court proceedings for a minimum of 10 hours after which they submit a Reflection Paper for review and a further interview.
- Module four is a Specialist Mental Health Training Workshop.
- Following a final interview, the last module comprises supervision and mentoring of the trainee CSOs by highly experienced VWCCS CSOs in the court environment.
VWCCS conducts quarterly training sessions to ensure that all volunteers are exposed to expertise of relevant areas, in particular, trauma and vicarious trauma, as well as being kept informed of any changes in protocol.
Volunteers can access formal debriefing as required.
VWCCS In The Press
Parramatta Sun, 7 January 2015.
“Support in court helps distraught”
by Matt Strand, Parramatta Advertiser, 22 October 2014.
“Confronting The Monster Within”
by Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2013.
“Pieta Thornton provides support as the founder of Victims and Witnesses of Crime Court Support”
by Lisa Herbertson, Parramatta Advertiser, 11 May 2014
“Red tape no match for saints”
by Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2011
VWCCS has a permanent presence at several NSW courts in Sydney, Bathurst, and Newcastle. We can also assist witnesses at other locations if advised beforehand.