Witness Assistance Service
The Office of Director of Public Prosecutions offers
support to victims of crime, witnesses and their families
anywhere in the Northern Territory throughout
the criminal justice process. There are eight members
of the Witness Assistance Service (WAS) five in Darwin,
three in Alice Springs.
Witness Assistance Service
WAS notifies victims of crime in writing about the service
and invites them to make contact. Victims can use a freecall telephone
number 1800 659 449. Victims are provided with several publications
at the appropriate times. These include WAS pamphlet and the
Victim Impact Statements booklet which includes a pro forma for
victims who choose to prepare a victim impact statement independently.
These two publications received the prize for runner up in the Institute
of Public Administrators Plain English Awards in 1999. The WAS pages
of this website won a Study Web award for academic excellence in
1999. These are attached.
WAS offers the following:
This includes court preparation. It can include court familiarisation
visits, demonstration of vulnerable witness facilities and observation
of a court sitting. Support regularly involves accompanying witnesses
to court and being with a witness either in the close-circuit television
room or behind a screen. WAS can also provide post court follow
up. We know that giving evidence in court is often a traumatic experience
which can revictimise people.
WAS will give information about the date, time and place of
the next court appearance, the stage that the matter is up to and
whether attendance is required.
WAS can assess the need for and organise the provision of interpreters
to assist witnesses in their appearances before the court.
Victims, witnesses and their families can be referred to agencies
for appropriate counselling, including specialist sexual assault
and domestic violence counselling, psychologists, psychiatrists
or solicitors for financial assistance claims. WAS has established
contacts with a wide variety of agencies.
The explanation of legal processes, language, behaviour and rules
of evidence is vital. The aim is to explain technical legal business
in plain English. Research shows that when people have a better
understanding and are given timely information about what is happening,
and why, they report a higher level of satisfaction with their experience
of the criminal justice system.
WAS acts as a point of reference for victims, witnesses and
their families. Liaison between police and victim, prosecutor and
victim, police and prosecutor or counsellor and victim is a valuable
Victim Impact Statements
WAS can assist victims of crime to prepare victim impact statements.
Victims of crime have the right to present to the court a statement
detailing how a crime has affected their lives. Victim impact statements
were introduced in the Northern Territory in March 1997. Since then
many people have decided to participate in the criminal justice
system by exercising that right.
A Guide to the Victim Impact Statement Scheme
Victim Impact Statement (also available
as Acrobat PDF)
Guidelines for Provision of
Documentation in Relation to Crimes (Victim Assistance) Act Application
How we can help you
Victims of Crime
Directory of Victim Services