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When good intentions are not enough: professionals' perceptions of the South Australian communication partner scheme


Hoff, S and Powell, M and Plater, D, When good intentions are not enough: professionals' perceptions of the South Australian communication partner scheme, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 57, (4) pp. 970-986. ISSN 0157-6321 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022. The Authors. Australian Journal of Social Issues published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australian Social Policy Association. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1002/ajs4.208


Children and other vulnerable parties such as those with a cognitive, social or communication impairment frequently struggle to understand, and be understood in, the criminal justice environment. One way this has been addressed in jurisdictions around Australia and overseas is through the introduction of intermediary (or communication partner) schemes, whereby an independent third party assists vulnerable witnesses, and in some cases, defendants, with their communication needs. The South Australian Government introduced a trained volunteer communication partner scheme for defendants and prosecution witnesses as one element of its Disability Justice Plan in 2016. However, the scheme had relatively limited use and ceased operation on 1 March 2020. This study provides a qualitative analysis of stakeholders’ (N = 23 professionals) perceptions of how the scheme was implemented, the factors that constrained the usefulness of the scheme and how the initiative could be improved. Participants highlighted the need for a future communication partner service to include highly trained and specialized professionals situated within a government agency.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:communication partner, intermediaries, intermediary scheme, special measures, vulnerable witnesses
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Public law
Research Field:Constitutional law
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Criminal justice
UTAS Author:Plater, D (Dr David Plater)
ID Code:154125
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2022-11-01
Last Modified:2022-12-23
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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