Prof. Daryl Higgins, Alex Cahill (Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University); Prof. Suzanne Hodgkin (Social Work, Australian Catholic University); Prof. Ilan Katz (Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales); Dr James Herbert (Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia); Paul Paulson (Nahri Institute); Meredith Doud (Ipsos)


Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General


Evaluate processes and outcomes of the Queensland Intermediary Scheme (QIS) pilot program in Brisbane and Cairns, and assess the effectiveness of intermediaries to assist the administration of justice in two sites

Project details

One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-2017) was to introduce support for witnesses in court procedures in child sexual offence cases. This support is being piloted in Queensland as part of the Queensland Intermediary Scheme (QIS).

The Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General engaged researchers from a number of organisations (see investigators above) to evaluate the pilot scheme. The research team, operating as a consortium, has proposed working with a range of stakeholders such as staff from QIS, prosecution and defence counsel, Queensland Police Services, Judiciary officers, and Steering Committee and Advisory group members.

The project aims to determine whether the QIS is successful in reducing trauma for vulnerable witnesses and in providing them with the opportunity to give their best evidence. It will conduct an evaluation of the pilot and provide recommendations to the Queensland Government on the following issues:

  • feasibility of rolling out the scheme across the state after the 2-year pilot
  • evaluation of how an intermediary can best work with witnesses to assist them to provide their best evidence.

The evaluation will be based on data that addresses key issues about the effectiveness of QIS:

  • process evaluation: set up and implementation of the QIS
  • effect on practice: for the intermediaries, Queensland Police Service staff, prosecution and defence counsel and judiciary.
  • communication strategies: effect on quality of the evidence provided by witnesses who are under 16 years of age, have cognitive impairment, or have difficulty communicating.

The consortium will deliver a report of the evaluation to the Queensland government.

Projected community impact

The Queensland Government will use the evaluation to help determine whether a state-wide roll out of the QIS will occur after the 2-year pilot. It is envisaged that the QIS may lead to the following outcomes for vulnerable witnesses:

  • trauma support
  • development of effective communication strategies.

We hope that the work will facilitate cultural change in the justice system so that it provides better support for vulnerable witnesses so they can provide their best evidence.


Read more about the QIS pilot program


Alex Cahill for further information.


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