From 1 July 2018, the way vulnerable witnesses give evidence in Victoria will dramatically change with the introduction of Intermediaries and Ground Rules Hearings.
The way in which practitioners question and handle child witnesses/those with a cognitive impairment will be restricted and previous practices no longer tolerated.
Professional Intermediaries, whose function is purely to facilitate the communication of vulnerable witnesses, will be present in court to assist the vulnerable person and provide reports in advance setting out the limitations of the questioning of the witness. The use of intermediaries follows P Redlich JA's comments in Ward v The Queen  VSC 37 and also the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Sexual Offences.
Victoria will be adopting procedures used in other jurisdictions, such as NSW, New Zealand and the UK. This talk is aimed at introducing the new scheme and suggesting some tactics when involved in cases that will necessitate an intermediary.