New training programme for professionals who help sexual abuse victims and children

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee today announces the launch of a new qualification programme at the University of Limerick to train Intermediaries who will help vulnerable people, including sexual abuse victims and children when giving evidence in the justice system.

Intermediaries are professionals, usually with a background in speech and language therapy or a cognate discipline, with the skills and expertise necessary to assist witnesses who have communication difficulties in providing evidence.

This is a big milestone in delivering on the Implementation of Supporting a Victim’s Journey, the implementation plan for the O’Malley Review, where recommendations were made around making available a panel of registered, qualified intermediaries to work with vulnerable victims in sexual assault cases.

The Professional Diploma in Intermediary Studies is a part-time course run for over 1 year. On successful completion of this programme, graduates will be eligible to be placed on a panel from which the courts, work within the Irish justice system.

The Registered Intermediary’s role will be to assist in the communication process, whether between lawyers and witnesses during the trial or, earlier, during Garda interviews.

Minister McEntee said, “The introduction of a new programme for intermediaries is a key action in Supporting a Victim’s Journey, my plan to create a more victim focussed criminal justice system. It outlines reforms to protect victims of sexual violence during the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences and committed that appropriately qualified intermediaries should be recruited and registered.

“Once qualified, they will have an essential role in assessing the communication needs of vulnerable witnesses and to advise An Garda Síochána, advocates and the court on the steps needed to assist such witnesses to give their best evidence.”

The diploma is a postgraduate training programme which will qualify CORU-registered health and social care practitioners to work as registered intermediaries in the Irish justice system.”

Places for the academic year 2022/2023 will be funded by the Department of Justice meaning successful applicants will not incur fees to complete this programme. Entry requirements include a minimum of a second-class honours primary degree (2.2) and 3 full years of practice experience as a CORU-registered Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist or Social Worker in the Republic of Ireland.

The application process is now open. For further details on how to apply see the UL webpage:

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