Intermediaries are not advocates but act as independent advisors and quasi-translators for people with communication needs. They provide expert advice to police, lawyers and judges about the best way to communicate with people with communication needs and may intervene in questioning that does not match their linguistic capacities.
In the UK Intermediaries have been used for over two decades. They are yet to be utilised uniformly in Australia.
Western Australia has the longest standing intermediary scheme in Australia, with South Australia and New South Wales implementing pilot schemes in 2016 and Victoria soon to commence a pilot program.
The package of measures in the Institute’s report, if implemented in full, will position Tasmania as one of Australia’s lead jurisdictions in measures to facilitate equal access to justice for children and other people with communication needs.
“Communication needs” is the term used by the Institute to denote a range of communication needs including those arising from linguistic and intellectual development, physical, mental and cognitive impairments, trauma as well as learning difficulties, language problems, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD).