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Department of the Attorney General
Annual Report 2015/16
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Agency Performance

Court Counselling and Support Services

Court Counselling and Support Services provide a range of services including the Victim Support and Child Witness Service, Family Violence Service and Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Services. The key focus is on improving the quality of services to the people of Western Australia.

Following the introduction of a new database in early 2016, the way data is collected and counted for the Services changed and may not be directly comparable with previous years.

Victim Support Service

The Victim Support Service (VSS) provides a range of specialist services to victims of crime to assist in their interaction with the criminal justice system and to help them in their recovery from trauma.

These services can be accessed by telephone, face-toface or email. A range of court-based information and support services to assist victims attending court is also available, together with assistance to prepare Victim Impact Statements.

The VSS also provides the prosecution agency with Assessment Reports to support applications to the court for vulnerable witnesses to provide their evidence via CCTV.

The VSS delivers services to regional WA through 13 service locations within regional courthouses from Kununurra to Esperance.

Outcomes 2015/16

During 2015/16, 7,655 victims of crime state-wide received more than 50,000 services. Of this number, 5,042 were new clients and 1,158 (23 per cent) were of Aboriginal descent. These figures are consistent with the previous year.

The VSS refined its service delivery model and developed an improved way of providing a more targeted service, using the professional skill set of counsellors. This change in professional practice resulted in a more sustainable use of resources.

In addition, the VSS continued to provide victim awareness training to all new recruits at the Western Australia Police Academy.

Child Witness Service

The Child Witness Service (CWS) provides services to children who give evidence in all criminal jurisdictions, in every court in the State and provides a specialist assessment, court preparation and support service to children under 18 years of age.

The CWS also provides advocacy to ensure children receive all their entitlements under the legislation, and assists with victim impact statements.

Outcomes 2015/16

There were 923 referrals in 2015/16, compared to the previous year of 898, a slight increase of 2.8 per cent from the previous year. The complexity of many cases required more intensive case management than previous years.

During the year the CWS provided advice and expertise to the review of legislation relevant to children giving evidence in court.

The Service also continued to provide valuable training to a range of key stakeholders including the Western Australia Police, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other agencies about the impact on children giving evidence.

This training included appropriate ways to interact with children to ensure the best possible outcomes for them and to support children so they may provide the best evidence to the court.

The CWS presented at the International Victimology Symposium in July 2015 in regard to the pre-recording of children’s evidence and the services provided by the Child Witness Service.

Family Violence Service

The Family Violence Service (FVS) provides services to victims of family violence. This includes support and advice relating to violence restraining order applications and victim impact statements, victim risk and safety assessments, information about court procedures and outcomes, court support, advocacy and referrals to other specialist family violence and support agencies.

The service also provides support to judicial officers in the Family Violence List through the provision of Bail Risk Assessment Reports and victim support for judicially monitored offender case management.

Outcomes 2015/16

During 2015/16, 4,039 victims of family and domestic violence received support. The FVS staff provided 27,949 services including risk assessments, safety planning, court support, information and referrals.

The FVS provides a triage model for assessing needs to ensure victims in high risk situations are prioritised and receive professional services in a timely way. The use of an appointment service for a number of clients helped to manage workloads.

The FVS will continue to review its assessment processes to ensure victims of family violence are helped to obtain the court’s protection from further acts of abuse.

Additionally, strong partnerships with other service providers remains a priority to ensure safer outcomes for families at risk.

In December 2015 the Fremantle Family Violence Service began the trial of a new model of integrated justice responses to family violence. The implementation phase introduced an innovative Brief Risk Assessment Report for all first appearances involving criminal offences in the Magistrates Court.

In addition, the Family Violence List saw a process for earlier engagement with victims and improved collaboration with stakeholders such as WA Police, child protection and community response services from the Family and Domestic Violence Response Team.

The Service continued to provide training to Western Australia Police recruits to ensure professional knowledge is shared with the Academy. It also provided final placements to Masters of Social Work students from the University of Western Australia.

Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Service

The Counselling and Consultancy Service is staffed by fully qualified family consultants with specialist knowledge and expertise in working with children and families experiencing relationship difficulties after separation. Family consultants are also experienced alternate dispute resolution practitioners.

Each case involving child-related proceedings in the Family Court of WA is allocated a family consultant prior to the first court event, which is usually a Case Assessment Conference. The primary role of the family consultant is to assist the Court to individually case manage each and every child related case before the Court.

This will often involve making referrals to other agencies, gathering information and reporting back to the magistrate or judge who is responsible for the case.

The number of applications received by the Court continues to increase. Family Consultants provided 1,574 assessments in child-related proceedings and 1,053 Case Assessment Conferences involving complex risk assessments.

Case Assessment Conferences continued to be the Service’s priority response and the number of families assisted was maintained at levels consistent with the previous financial year.

Last updated: 27-Sep-2016

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