“Gathering Momentum: Australia’s First Intermediary Conference Unites Global Experts”

ACT, Australia

Australia’s first intermediary conference, “Gathering Momentum,” begins tomorrow, marking a significant step in the ACT’s ongoing commitment to fair and equitable legal processes for all vulnerable individuals. The online, invite-only conference, sponsored by the ACT Human Rights Commission, brings together global experts to discuss best practices for ensuring justice is accessible and comprehensible for everyone.

The ACT established an intermediary team four years ago and recently became the first Australian jurisdiction to formally recognize and address the unique needs of vulnerable accused individuals. Experts attending include The Hon Lucy McCallum, Chief Justice of the ACT Supreme Court, and Professor Penny Cooper, a world-leading expert who has supported the development of Australian intermediary schemes.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury emphasized the ACT’s leadership in recognizing the importance of intermediaries for fair and equitable access to justice. Presentations and panel discussions will cover topics such as the impact of vulnerability on communication in legal proceedings, best practices for intermediaries, and future directions for intermediary services in Australia.

In a case study highlighted in the 2022-23 annual report, the Territory’s intermediary team assisted a police interview with a complainant in an alleged sexual offence matter. The individual had communication needs relating to mental health, trauma, unclear speech, and an acquired brain injury. The intermediary’s recommendations enabled the complainant to effectively determine a timeline of events.

Commissioner Heidi Yates said the conference is an opportunity for ACT intermediaries to learn from and collaborate with renowned experts from around the world, demonstrating the ACT Program’s remarkable achievements.