Witness Assistance Officer» search for more Jobs
A Witness Assistance Officer provides support to victims of crime and other witnesses and prepares them or their appearance in court through the provision of information, education, and referral to support services. Their main concerns are the welfare of the client and ensuring that their involvement in legal proceedings runs smoothly. They may be required to:
- Prepare witnesses for giving evidence by arranging counselling and other services to assist them cope with traumatic events and their involvement in the court proceedings
- Arrange a visit to court to familiarise witnesses with the court environment and brief them on what to expect in court and their rights
- Liaise with prosecution lawyers, including arranging meetings and conferences when appropriate
- Provide an opportunity for to talk after the court case and provide information about Victims Registers, Victim Impact Statements and the Sentencing Process
Witness Assistance Officers need to be of good character and exhibit a high level of maturity as well as highly developed interpersonal and communication skills to effectively inform and support people who may have been traumatised by being a victim of crime or are distressed or anxious about participating in the justice system. They must be able to relate with empathy and understanding to both adults and children from a wide range of backgrounds, assess their support needs and deal with them with patiently and objectively to convey complex information related to the case.
A completed law degree is not essential for this type of work, though students and new graduates may find it a good entry-level role, providing the opportunity to gain experience and an insight into the workings of the legal system. Knowledge of the law and court procedures, support services and victims issues is essential.
Principal Employment Sectors and Industry
Witness Assistance Officers are employed by both government agencies, such as the Director of Public Prosecutions in states/territories, and non-government support services.