Expansion of Child Sexual Evidence Program statewide to reduce trauma for children


NSW Parliament today passed a Bill expanding the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program to all District Court locations in NSW, providing crucial support to child complainants and child prosecution witnesses in sexual offence proceedings.

The Program allows children who are complainants or prosecution witnesses in sexual offence matters to have their evidence pre-recorded, with the recording later played in court. It aims to reduce the stress and trauma experienced by these children and enables them to complete their evidence at an early stage of the trial.

A witness intermediary is also available to assist with the child’s communication needs at the police interview and at court during the pre-recorded evidence hearing. Witness intermediaries have tertiary qualifications in speech pathology, social work, psychology, teaching or occupational therapy.

Witness intermediaries were made available in all police districts from 1 July 2023. The Bill expands the availability of witness intermediaries to all District Court locations in NSW.

Currently, the Program is limited to the Downing Centre in Sydney and the Newcastle District Court.

The state-wide expansion will mean that pre-recorded evidence hearings and witness intermediaries will be available for children who are complainants or prosecution witnesses in all sexual offence cases in NSW, no matter where the case is heard.

Along with the measures in the Bill, three new District Court Judges will be appointed to support the Program’s expansion.

It is expected that more than 140 extra pre-recorded evidence hearings will take place each year as a result of the expansion, ensuring the improvement of child complainant and prosecution witness experiences, and reducing trauma for many more children who give evidence in sexual offence matters.

NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said:

“Child sexual abuse is a terrible crime. This program aims to reduce stress and assist children to give their best evidence in court.”

“Expanding this successful Program statewide to all children who are involved in sexual offence proceedings as complainants or prosecution witnesses in NSW will help make the court experience far less traumatic.”

“We want to give children the best chance possible to move on with their lives and not compound the trauma they may already have experienced.”

/Public Release. View in full here.